The beautiful ice capped mountains, idyllic blue skies and cold breeze. An image of Kashmir straight from Mani Ratnam's 'Roja' is what beckons Viplav to the 'Paradise on Earth'. However, reality hits this Mani Ratnam fan hard when bombs set off on his way to his BSNL quarters, forcing him to reconsider his decision.
'Kushi', directed by Telugu filmmaker Shiva Nirvana, gets off to a grand start, soaking in the beauty of Kashmir. The costumes, the aerial shots all make it a perfect setting for anyone to fall in love. That's exactly what happens when Viplav (Vijay Deverakonda) sees Aradhya (Samantha) sitting in a shikara in the middle of the Dal Lake. What he does to woo her, her real identity and finally their decision to court each other forms the crux of the first half of 'Kushi'.
The film does offer some excellent humour, especially the scene in which the women in the neighbourhood throw apples at Viplav when he 'begs' them for food.
Though marketed as a love story, it is the conflict between science and religion that is the highlight of the movie. The romance between Viplav and Aradhya burns bright in the 'Na Roja Nuvve' and 'Aradhya' songs sung by hit composer Hesham Abdul Wahab, but something seems amiss throughout the story even when the two are declaring their undying love for each other. This could have been avoided had the filmmakers not wasted much time on the couple's journey to marriage since the film's main focus is on their struggle post-marriage.
The film is also bogged down at certain places due to it's length and predictable storyline.
However, the filmmaker has to be appreciated for trying to explore the complexity of relationships in a mature manner and for his novel attempt to bring together people with two extreme religious upbringing (Aradhya's father is a Hindu preacher while Viplav's father is a die-hard atheist).
Vijay as Viplav is a kind, sweet hero, (a far cry from the rogue attitude he carried off in 'Arjun Reddy') and he has put up a restrained performance in the movie. His exchanges with Vennela Kishore, who plays his driver and companion, in the first part of the film manages to evoke some laughter in theatres. Samantha nails her role as Aradhya.
Sachin Khadekar, Murali Sharma, Saranya Ponvannan, Srikanth Iyengar and Mohammad Ali excel in their roles. The cinematography by Murali G, who has worked in films like 'Madras', Sarpatta Parambarai' and 'Kabali', is breathtaking.