Movie Review | Another larger-than-life hero movie

Salaar Part 1: The Ceasefire

Starring: Prabhas, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Easwari Rao,

Direction: Prashanth Neel

There is as much din and dust raised in Prashant Neel’s script as at the box office. This Prabhas-Prashant Neel product is a better study for marketing gurus than film students. If anything it is a fine study on how not to make a loud, wild film. While it gets unhesitatingly huge acceptance — huge applause, in fact — it leaves little cinematic space for the connoisseurs, having been built entirely on worshipping violence. It transcends common sense. Our Nietzschean superman is no Zarathustra, but an adrenaline-filled muscle man.

The power and aura of these larger-than-life and far, far-away-from-life heroes are so constantly growing that it is difficult to bring them back to normalcy. The propagation of violence through mainstream cinema by the primordial stars and persona of our cinema reflect a clear rejection of any semblance of social responsibility. While it is arguable that it is not the part of an artiste to play social reformer, the brazen defiance of even a shadow role in society and going the whole hog in the opposite direction is a matter of concern and calls for collective addressing.

Let’s tick the boxes.

Theme: Ghisa pita (well-worn). Male bonding and friends sacrificing their all in the name of friendship is likely younger in age than the Vindhayas.

Length: Awfully long. Three hours! In the contemporary world, three hours for a commercial film is a yawn. This is no ‘Gone with the Wind’. It is no ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.

Presentation: There is something sweepingly unkempt about the ambience that gives you the feeling that the film is shot (by Bhuvan Gowda) through a dusty lens.

Execution: It is a complete failure on the part of the director. It’s a complete abdication to the team of action directors Anbariv, Prayash Swain, stunt double, and Irakli Subanadze who are marching all over the place, with sound editor Raju Albert adding to the cacophony.

Music: Ravi Basrur has nothing substantial to offer. Robbing Indian films of their music affects the product structurally.

Editing: Ujwal Kulkarni’s work is reflected in the fact that the film would be chucked by one-third. Needless shots of coal mines in the northeast, constant timelines from circa 1100 speak volumes of refusal to what to shoot.

Childhood friends Deva and Varadaraja Mannar (Prithviraj Sukumaran) display feudal commitment and eagerness to play the sacrificial lamb. The modern avatar of ‘Mother India’, Easwari Rao as Deva’s mother, brooks no nonsense. Once attacked twice bold, she moves away from sight of exploitation to Tinsukia in Assam, where she runs a school with the attitude of a matron. The one praiseworthy aspect of her is her good cotton saris. While she preaches non-violence, she incites her son Deva (Prabhas) to fight the goons. His naturally endowed prowess has given him strength and for a while even tolerance. Deva in case one has forgotten, has left behind Varadaraja, who is at the receiving end of his half-brother Rudra (Garuda Ram). Rudra and Varadaraja are siblings through different mother branches of Raja Mannar (Jagapathi Babu). Aadhya Krishnakanth runs away from her American life with a handbag and an accent, only to be chased by hooligans who are good advertisements for human washing machines.

Most characters in the film if nothing need a good hair trim and a clean wash. Without having to justify their tribal past, the language they speak, and the way they behave are all time-defined.

It is after the interval, which is a full 90 minutes since you left sanity behind, that we are taken on a conducted historical tour to Khansar. We are also tangentially familiarised with Obulamma (Jhansi) and Radha Rama Mannar (Shreya Reddy) who take turns to spew various baddies in Raja Mannar’s court including Ranga (John Vijay), Bharava (Bobby Simha), Vardha’s brother (Prabodh). There are also the rival tribe members of Shouryangana (Shafi) and Ghaniyar (Bhramaji).

However, why all this? Even if you spend a few seconds taking your eyes off the screen to dip your hand into the popcorn box, two guys have beaten up two others. They have insulted Varadaraja who enrols his one-man army, Deva. There is some talk about a ceasefire, voting. It all leads to violence, destruction and bloodshed.

If the script and the content are not tiring enough, catcalls of approval in appreciation from the galleries disturb the ease and serenity of those who, defying logic or otherwise, are compelled to part with their rupees and watch three hours of only violence. Culturally worrisome, artistically crass, economically a thumping success. The paradox is for all to see and draw appropriate conclusions. Except for the class of Prithviraj Sukumaran, there is nothing positive in this three-hour orgy of violence.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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