There’s a hero who calls himself ‘Shadow’. Of course, there’s a reason why he’s called that. He’s on a mission, to single out the core group members of mafia don Nana Bhai and wipe them out. The story is as old as the hills, or as old as Indian cinema itself: Nana Bhai (Aditya Pancholi) and his gang murder Raghuram (Nagababu), an undercover investigative journalist, in front of his son. The boy manages to escape and vows to avenge his father’s death. Nasser, who provides shelter to children of families affected by the mafia group, takes the boy under his wings. Under Nasser’s guidance, the motley group of children grow up determined to pin down their prime target.

The problem with Shadow is not merely in the been-there-done-that kind of a story. Many mainstream films follow that path anyway. Pack in a few stunts, songs and comedy and you have a staple formula that ensures a decent opening at the box office. Director Meher Ramesh probably wanted to make a film high on style, where the action sequences are on par with Hollywood films. So we get to see a large number of people clad in hooded leather jackets walking with a swagger and all of them captured, at least once in 30 minutes, in silhouettes as if to remind you of the title. By the time you are halfway through the film, you lose count of the number of people killed, the number of bullets used and the limbs broken.

Years later, the task of capturing Nana Bhai and his gang falls on a straightforward cop Prathap (Srikanth) before they can wreak havoc on Hyderabad. If you’ve watched Telugu movies, you’d know that the scene of action will shift to either Thailand or Malaysia. We get to see a lot of Langkawi islands as the gang goes about its work and one member after the other gets killed by Shadow. Prathap and his team of cops are at a loss about the identity of Shadow. Please note that all the mafia members — in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Malaysia, speak fluent Telugu. The police station in Malaysia has only Indians, in particular Telugu-speaking officers.

This revenge drama is hugely punctuated by comedy provided by M.S. Narayana and group. The gags aren’t remotely funny and we are left wondering if the audience is laughing with the jokes or at them. There’s also a poor version of Gabbar Singh’s antakshari thrown in. How funny is it to watch M.S. Narayana attend a press conference pretending he is ‘Tom Yum’ from Japan?

While watching Shadow, it will also help if you don’t ask what, why, when, who, where and how. There are more bloopers than you can count on your fingers. As Venkatesh goes about introducing himself to the mafia members as ‘Shadow: Rajaram, son of Raghuram,’ followed by more phrases that rhyme, you wonder if there’s anything to like about the film — dialogues, script, screenplay, styling (Tapsee’s clothes and accessories are simply over the top; as for Venkatesh’s colourful hairdo, let’s not even talk about it), music, comedy — and you can’t think of any.

The only ones who make a mark are Venkatesh and Srikanth. The two seasoned actors are earnest and give their best to the roles, but are letdown hugely by the film. Tapsee doesn’t have much scope and what little she has gets overshadowed by her kitschy styling.

If you are a Venkatesh fan, we suggest you watch some of his earlier films instead. Here, he has been reduced to a shadow of his once glorious self. At one point, when Venkatesh suffers retrograde amnesia and behaves like a boy, you feel sorry for the talented actor caught in a wrong film like this one.

Cast: Venkatesh, Srikanth, Tapsee

Director: Meher Ramesh

Music: Thaman

Plot: A son avenges the murder of his father by wiping out a mafia group

Bottomline: What was the director thinking?


Telugu comedian M.S. Narayana passes awayJanuary 23, 2015