After what was expected from its teaser, Om Namo Venkatesaya narrates the story of Hathiram Bhavaji, a saint, who became an ardent devotee of Venkatesa. At first, we see a young Rama (Nagarjuna) asking his preceptor (played by actor Sai Kumar) about means which can let one see god for real. To boost his belief, the sage cites the famous quote 'matha pitha guru deivam'. Cut to present, we see a teenage Rama performing rituals in a forest. Struck by Rama's spirituality, Lord Vishnu disguises himself as a boy and interrupts his rites.
When Rama gets to know from his preceptor that it was Vishnu himself, he sets on a pilgrimage to Tirumala, to worship Venkatesa. In Tirumala, Rama gets acquainted with a fellow devotee, Krishnamma (Anushka Shetty). Though the duo educates people in their village with short stories of Venkatesa, Rama's quest to meet the lord remains unanswered. And that's when Venkatesa (Saurabh Raj Jain) descends on the earth, only to play dice with Rama, his favourite bhakt.
The film is set in the 18th century. Rama gets the privilege of becoming the administrator of Tirumala, who is also responsible for the induction of the famous Tirumala prasad and Nitya Kalyanam. The rest of Om Namo Venkatesaya narrates several incidents that made Rama transform into Hathiram Bhavaji, who, we believe, has his own Mutt in Tirumala.
Despite a generic story, the film hits the bull's eye when it talks about Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam's (TTD) hypocrisy that it has continued with for years now. For instance, those who pay a considerable amount to the temple authorities, get their darshan done in a matter of a few minutes, while others wait for hours.
Nagarjuna, who has given some memorable performances in films like Ramadasu and Annamayya, returns to his forte. His portrayal of Rama does justification to the iconic character. Just like each time when someone says "Krishna", we're inevitably reminded of late superstar NT Rama Rao, who will forever be remembered for playing the eponymous character.
In Om Namo Venkatesaya, we have Saurabh Raj essaying Vishnu and it's safe to say that we finally have a replacement to fill in NTR's shoes. The portions between Nagarjuna and Saurabh play out pretty well. Music and songs by MM Keeravani take us back to that era, especially the song Kaliyuga Vaikuntapuri.
If you're into spiritualism, Om Namo Venkatesaya is a must watch, as the film itself seemed to have been made for a particular sect; the ones who visit Tirumala twice a year, if not more. The audience stands up twice inside the hall. Not only for the National Anthem before the film, but out of devotion too at the end.
However, it is a sleep-inducing film for atheists and agnostics.