Mani Ratnam's Cheliyaa (Cheliya), starring Karthi and Aditi Rao Hydari, has good performances and rich production values, but the poor execution of the story has marred the beauty of the movie, according to Telugu critics.
Set during the1999 Kargil war, Cheliyaa revolves around the story of army doctor Leela (Aditi Rao Hydari), who falls in love with fighter pilot Varun (Karthi), who is a phobic. Varun is also in love with her, but he is shying away from committing to a relationship. The twist comes when he is held as prisoner by Pakistan. How he frees himself and wins his love forms the crux of the movie.
The critics say director Mani Ratnam has penned an interesting script for Cheliyaa. The first half is engaging and entertaining, but the slow-paced narration and predictable story in the second half makes the movie boring. There are some flaws in Karthi's characterisation in the second half.
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As a fighter pilot, Karthi is dashing and has done justice to the role. Aditi Rao Hydari, who makes her debut in south films, has done a good job. She looks glamorous and her chemistry with Karthi is good. Other artistes have also performed well.
Cheliyaa has rich production values and Ravi Varman's brilliant cinematography makes the film a visual treat. AR Rahman's background score, exotic locales and good costumes are other attractions on the technical front, say critics.
Here are some critics' verdict and ratings for Cheliyaa:
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Idle Brain Rating: 3.25
First half of the film is nice and second half is slow. Mani Ratnam has projected hero character with flaws. People who except sweet romance between lead pair might get disappointed. It's a visual poetry by Mani Ratnam. There are only two kinds of reactions for this movie. You will love it if you connect to it. You hate it if you don't connect with it. I belong to the category that connected to the movie. I loved it. I recommend this film, but not to everybody (as it's not meant for for people who wants to see only lovey-dovey romance in a Mani Rathnam's movie)! Brace yourself for some realism in love!!
123 Telugu Rating: 3
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Cheliyaa is one film which will surely draw mixed reactions. While one section of the audience will just love Mani Ratnam's romance and taking, the regular audience will find it very hard to enjoy this serious romantic drama. Karthi and Aditi Rao's sizzling chemistry, entertaining first half are basic assets. But the slow and slightly dragged second half makes things a bit difficult. On the whole, all those who like slow but emotional romantic dramas can surely give this film a shot but for others, Cheliyaa is just an average film this weekend.
India Glitz Rating: 2.5
Cheliyaa has shades of some of the character-driven love stories. However, the lack of a strong conflict point, an engaging story line and no highs in terms of songs do the film in. Technical elements score.
AP Herald Rating: 2
The first half of the movie moves bit fastly and thrillingly, whereas the second half is bit dragged. The movie has more war scenes and romantic scenes also. Karthi had acted as a Pilot Officer and his clean shave and slim body adds more beauty to the movie. The songs are well made and a perfect take on War and Love with many emotions. Indian Air Force was given the priority which has shown the power of India in Kargil War of 1999. Maniratnam, AR Rahman and Vairamuthu's combo had worked very well in Cheliya. Watch the romantic movie this weekend and have a superb feeling of love that is built in you.