I t must have been a hell of a gamble for Meher Ramesh to make producer Aswini Dutt invest an incredible amount on this fare and also replace NTR's title Young Tiger with a fresh one as A1 Star. Shakti is commendable for its great ambition and visual imagination, it has outdone itself in creating a world that's full of jaw-dropping visual splendour but forgets to add the soul and some logic and doesn't make the viewer feel much except bewildered in its single-minded pursuit to be the grandiose movie ever like Magadheera. The film pulverises on several levels; NTR in the role of Rudra is a total misfit in looks and attitude, also the revelation that he is an investigative officer pre-interval falls totally flat. He balances back and forth as Shakti Swaroop and as Rudra in elaborate costumes and exaggerated performances. It has a complex plot and a laundry list of actors, amounting to a hundred from Hindi, Tamil and Telugu (there is one from Croatia too) who do nothing except behave like set properties. The biggest travesty is from the writers who have failed to come up with one compelling dialogue to match the story and the looks.

Shakti is a story that will confound and annoy the fans, viewers and the cynics. In one scene it has an Egyptian queen scooping out eyes with a tiny knife from her be-headed husband, she does the same to her young son who is alive and replaces her husband's cornea in the child's. Coming back to the story, Shakti is a tourist guide who protects Aishwarya (Ileana) from an attack by a few Egyptians who are looking for a diamond with magical powers that is in her possession and a holy trident in Jackie Shroff's hold that will help them avenge the killing of king Sonu Sood and make them invincible. Meanwhile, Shakti has a history connected with the trident that will occupy the last 45 minutes of the film. Ileana is pleasing on the eye, NTR's judgement and effort goes waste. He is beginning to put on weight, the rest of the characters crumble under a narrative mess. Songs and dances are passable. Cinematography and lighting lights up the screen.

y. sunita chowdhary

Shakti Cast: NTR, Ileana Genre: Socio-fantasy Direction: Meher Ramesh Music Direction: Mani Sarma Bottomline: Mummification of Shakti on the release day