Film: Pushpa The Rise
Cast: Allu Arjun, Rashmik Mandanna, Sunil and Fahad Fasil
Pushpa Raj (Allu Arjun) is a coolie raised in the world of red sandalwood smuggling. His rags-to-riches story unfolds along both distinctive and predictable lines.
Review: First things first – It’s heartening to see ace director Sukumar moving away from contemporary urban plots and touching upon a burning issue –red sanders smuggling in the Seshachalam forest in Andhra Pradesh.
What’s even more welcome is that the director has designed a unique character for Allu Arjun. The actor’s rustic makeover as a daily labourer, a smuggler, and also a hunchback have made him stand out. However, what Sukumar delivers is a mixed bag. At times the film falters, but it does deliver what it promises.
The first half of the film that shows the protagonist’s rise from being the underdog to a position of power has been well shot. Allu Arjun’s dialogues, his fearless attitude and body language are near perfect. He aced the Chittoor slang too.
The director showcases the nitty gritty of red sanders smuggling, and the modus operandi.
Pushpa’s romance with Srivalli (Rashmika) is another layer in the plot. His ignorance of the art of flirting, the way he approaches Srivalli, and a few episodes in their romance evokes laughter. The interval episode where Pushpa challenges the villain (Sunil) is riveting.
But once the second half begins, most of the scenes are predictable. That’s where the film falters. We have seen several gangster-based films which show the rise of the underdog. So, the scenes where Pushpa bypasses villains and strikes a deal with others are not new.
Length-wise, the film isn’t the best. Samantha’s special song does not provide a high, and the Sami Sami song comes without context.
The altercation between Pushpa and Shekawat (Fahad Fasil) in the climax also lacks the required punch. In fact, it looks as if the filmmaker is leaving room for a second part.
Devi Sri Prasad’s music scores big and his background score elevates the intense scenes.
Performance wise, Allu Arjun breathes life into the character. He has evolved a lot as an actor and this is one of his career-best performances. Rashmika Mandanna is convincing as a village belle; she too pulled off her role well. While Sunil and other character actors were adequate, it’s the lag in the second half and the run time that become hurdles. Also, the second half is short of ‘defining’ moments, which could prove costly.
Overall, Pushpa The Rise, is a one-man show! It’s Allu Arjun all the way!