While watching a mainstream masala potboiler like Baadshah, there are a few questions you should never ask. Don’t ask how the hero breaks the shackles within seconds. Don’t ask how a large number of Italians match steps with him when he breaks into an energetic performance singing in Telugu. Don’t ask why one of the villains has to have an annoying quirk — here, Ashish Vidyarthi plays the violin before he finishes off his opponents. Most of all, don’t ask how Scorpios fly in the air when the hero simply stomps on the ground. The only question you need to be bothered about is whether the film, tailor-made for a star’s massive fan base, manages to entertain.
Baadshah is a movie made to a template. So you know that the hero, though shown as a mafia goon, cannot be evil. If he hunts down a dreaded Don, the hatred has to be born out of a personal loss. That the hero will avenge the personal loss and at the same time save his city and the country, in the larger picture, is a given. Just as every army has a traitor, each gangster company will have an informer just so that there are a few twists in the story.
Rama Rao or Baadshah (NTR) is ambitious and wants to wield power in the mafia territory spanning across South East Asia and Hong Kong. His father (Mukhesh Rishi) runs a casino in Macau and is a trusted aide of Don Saddhu Bhai (Kelly Dorjee). Baadshah comes up with a ploy, strikes a deal with the Don, wipes out one of his opponents and takes control over the mafia ring in Macau. But soon the Don learns of his sinister plans and wants to finish him off.
The makers stretch the wafer-thin storyline to a full-length film, with some peppy songs (Thaman), high-action stunts, gorgeous locales (it helps that the mafia functions over several countries — Italy, Hong Kong and India) and an extra large dose of comedy.
Like many films in recent years, Baadshah relies heavily on comedy. Some of these portions turn out to be well written than the rest of the film. M.S. Narayana as filmmaker ‘Revenge Nageswara Rao’ who focuses on crime, underworld and has an affair with almost every heroine he works with is a riot. This spoof on a popular filmmaker known for his devil-may-care attitude, attention-seeking statements and notorious tweets will be talked about for a long time. You can hear the laughter in the hall when he says, “Idhi edho bagundhe, twitter-lo pettu’.
In the second half, Brahmanandam carries the weight of the comedy portions, caught in an inception-like trance and ‘living his dream’. He also gets to walk like Salman Khan to a Dabangg background score.
But then, Baadshah does an overkill of comedy. When all that remains in the film is the final showdown between Baadshah and the Don, you have force-fit comic episodes like Nasser and his family members dancing at the sangeet, which turns out to be a bore.
Some portions of the film are smartly written (Gopimohan and Kona Venkat) but the main story is so predictable. Some amount of editing would have made it smarter and better. The last one hour is a test of patience and you don’t much care what the Don is after, who are the good cops and how the black sheep amongst them is taken to task. In fact, quite a few twists are revealed earlier and you know how the film will end.
What works in favour of the film, besides comedy, is NTR’s energetic performance. He has good screen presence and is in top form. Kajal Aggarwal as the do-gooder, always ready with moral science gyaan is fun to watch. Tanikella Bharani, Nasser, Navdeep and Suhasini are convincing in their parts. Mahesh Babu’s voiceover in the opening scene is an added attraction and so is Siddharth’s cameo.
Don’t go expecting something new and don’t try to analyse and the film will entertain you, in parts.
Cast: NTR, Kajal Aggarwal, Navdeep, M.S. Narayana and Brahmanandam
Direction: Sreenu Vaitla
Music: S.S. Thaman
Plot: Baadshah has to outwit a dreaded don to avenge a personal loss
Bottomline: Watch it for its comedy, the rest is predictable.