Director: Puri Jagannadh
Cast: Ram Pothineni, Nabha Natesh, Nidhi Agerwal, Satya Dev, Tulasi and others
His last few films bombing at the box office left director Puri Jagannadh desperate for a good break. While many went on to criticise his “lack of skill”, he collaborated with actor Ram Pothineni to make iSmart Shankar. Leading up to its release, the film generated a fair amount of buzz around Ram’s novel avatar in it.
iSmart Shankar is set in Hyderabad, where Shankar (Ram Pothineni) operates as a goon who facilitates settlements. In one of his assignments, his uncle pays him an enormous sum of money to kill a politician (Puneet Issaar). After the completion of the job, Shankar and his girlfriend (Nabha Natesh) head off to Goa to hide. Unfortunately, the politician's men trace him to Goa and begin chasing him. Shankar attempts to escape, however, they kill his girlfriend in the encounter. An enraged Shankar is now determined to avenge his girlfriend’s murder.
In another case, Arun (Satya Dev), a CBI officer investigating the murder of a politician, discovers the involvement of a big guy in it. The murder takes place in a meeting. So, a CBI chief (Sayaji Shindi) appoints Arun’s girlfriend (Nidhi), a neuroscientist, to transfer Arun’s memories to Shankar’s brain. Hereon, how Shankar completes his job and also takes revenge from his girlfriend’s killers with the power of two brains is the crux of the plot.
Transplanting memory from a deceased to a live person is indeed an intriguing idea, however, Puri Jagganadh’s portrayal of it was deficient of class — he’s gone all-out commercial with an overdose of loud and witty dialogues — literally every ingredient required — to satisfy the masses. For example, when Ram proclaims his love to Nabha, she first slaps him and then falls in love with him. Later, Ram slaps her too. And these are just two of the many inappropriate scenes in the movie that women’s welfare activists are likely to react negatively to.
Further, Puri has portrayed even Ram and Nabha’s meetings in the film with aesthetic undertones, which activists might object to.
The first half of iSmart Shankar is loaded with twists and turns and keeps the audience on the edge of the seat.
Alas, the film becomes predictable in its second half. The Varanasi sequence is gripping, but the climax seems like a forceful extension.
As far as performance is concerned, Ram Pothineni has done a fabulous job with the energy in his delivery. His makeover in the movie goes beyond just his appearance and extends to his style, body language and dialogue delivery. The only negative in his performance is his imitation of the Telangana accent, which sounds very put on.
Nabha Natesh as a typical Hyderabadi girl has also done justice to her role. Just like Ram, though, her delivery of Telangana slang isn’t very spot on, either. It’s alright, her charm and glamour make up sufficiently for the deficiency. Even Nidhi Agarwal, who plays the neuroscientist, seems to have been included largely for her glamour quotient. Well, mostly, at least.
Satya Dev landed himself another good role in iSmart Shankar, and he’s done a neat job as usual. Sayaji Shinde, Ashish Vidhyarthi and Tulasi have routine roles in the film.
Coming to music, Mani Sharma has produced music to please the masses — his Bonalu number is especially catchy. He has also done a remarkable job with the background score. In combination with Raj Thota’s cinematography and the neatly choreographed action sequences, the film packs a punch of quality entertainment for the people.
In a nutshell, iSmart Shankar is loaded with sugar, spice and all things nice, making it a bang-for-the-buck commercial entertainer. The film has also come as a good break for Ram Pothineni and Mani Sharma. If loud dialogues, commercial music and quality action scenes move you, then we highly recommend that you catch iSmart Shankar before it’s too late.