In the first few minutes of debut writer-director Rajendra Reddy’s Telugu film Amigos, Siddharth (Kalyan Ram) tells his family members, who are searching for a suitable matrimonial alliance for him, that he wants to meet a girl who will pique his interest. He uses the word ‘interesting’ a few times. That word can be applied to the premise of Amigos as well. Imagine meeting not one but two lookalikes or doppelgangers and their amiable meetings taking a devious turn when one of them unleashes his rogue intentions. The idea that seems interesting does not translate into an entertaining and engaging narrative.
Amigos introduces viewers to the idea of doppelgangers right from the title credits, by showing how one can search for lookalikes using an online database. News clippings about lookalikes across the world take over the screen, along with references to lookalikes of Shah Rukh Khan, Virat Kohli, Alia Bhatt and Trisha.
Cast: Kalyan Ram, Ashika Ranganath, Brahmaji
Direction: Rajendra Reddy
In this story, the concept of doppelgangers is introduced through a random incident at a pub. Before that, the director establishes some of Siddharth’s traits, familial bonds and a peculiar food allergy. When Siddharth meets his doppelgangers — a soft-spoken Manjunath Hegde from Karnataka who speaks a mix of Kannada and Telugu, and a deep-throated Michael who tries to mask his sinister intentions — some more unique physical attributes and mannerisms come to the fore.
Enacting three roles for the first time, Kalyan Ram shifts from a normal Siddharth to a timid and good-natured Manjunath to a mysterious and dark Michael. The story’s trajectory is predictable and we know that soon, the three men will look like photocopies and one of them will unleash their devious plans.
Before all that, a lamely-written romance between Siddharth and Ishika (Ashika Ranganathan) unfolds. Their meetings are meant to be cute but are quite silly. Ishika wants her man to be extremely energetic all through the day — run thrice around the Durgam Cheruvu park without a hint of fatigue, carry out all the tasks she has in store for him and so on… In short, she looks for Chitti the robot; the three doppelgangers think it is fun to hoodwink her by taking turns. The lacklustre romance makes it tough to empathise with both Ishika and Siddharth later in the film.
The narrative gets somewhat interesting when Michael’s mask comes off. A terror angle and a bunch of supposed NIA officers, who seem extremely lost, are introduced. To give viewers an idea of how evil Michael is, phrases and lines that equate him to Pablo Escobar or refer to him as the ‘merchant of death’ are liberally thrown around.
Michael is depicted as a shrewd gun dealer who doesn’t flinch before going on a killing spree; he says he will not mind selling guns to aliens if they give him money! All right then.
The impersonations that happen in the last hour and the lurking danger for Siddharth’s family members lend themselves to some engaging segments. However, the rest of the film doesn’t rise beyond its predictable tropes and the climax portion is a drag. The portions involving Brahmaji elicit sporadic laughs. The remix of Ilaiyaraaja’s ‘Enno ratrulosthayi gani’ also doesn’t help after a point.
Kalyan Ram does try to shoulder the proceedings, but had the writing been better, this could have been a gripping thriller drama. Ghibran’s soundtrack adds some drama but ultimately, Amigos ends up as an interesting idea that does not take off.
(Amigos is currently running in theatres)