Half way through PSV Garuda Vega , I felt like double checking if the high of watching a big budget, well-knit thriller, in Telugu, is indeed true. Dhruva that came last year was a remake of a Tamil film. Barring the shoestring-budgeted Kshanam , we haven’t had good thrillers in the recent past.
Writer-director Praveen Sattaru’s ambitious film keeps us on the edge, with one riveting episode after another. In this script-driven film, the director makes every actor play the character in the plot. Though there’s a well known actor headlining the film ( Garuda Vega is billed as Dr Rajasekhar’s comeback vehicle) Praveen doesn’t pander to the star persona. There’s no fawning introduction song extolling his virtues. No one talks about his skills at his workplace, in this case the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The first glimpse of Shekar (Dr Rajasekhar) is at a counselling session with his wife Swathi (Pooja Kumar). Their marriage has gone sour thanks to his high-profile secret missions. He can’t come clean to her about his work and to make things worse, cloaks his missions with ridiculous stories — such as hunting for tortoise smugglers! It’s a stretch when the film wants us to believe that Shekar doesn’t even recognise his five-year-old son in school, but we can look past it because the core plot is gripping.
A hacker, Niranjan (Adith), is on the run. The NIA smells something fishy when sporadic, small instances of crime throw up clues of something larger. Shekar, his trusted colleagues Yadav (Ravi Varma), Venkat (Charandeep) and Nassar (as NIA head) get working. Praveen Sattaru begins the film on a high note, with a nail-biting chase of the hacker and keeps the momentum until the mystery is cracked — reporter Malini (Shradda Das) simplifies it to viewers as a ‘plutonium scam’ that involves political bigwigs.
Sreecharan Pakala and Bheems Cecirolio seem to have had a blast composing music score that adds an edginess to the proceedings, all the way till the final sequence involving George (Kishore, with a metallic hand). Cinematography by Anji, Suresh Ragutu, Shyam Prasad, Gika Chelidze and Bakur Chikobava; Dharmendra Kakarla’s editing and Srikanth Ramisetty’s art direction all contribute to the slick thriller.
Geeky terms are occasionally thrown around and the director understands that in the age of digital content, an audience habituated to international films will get the drift. Yet, while writing, he may have debated on whether it’s too geeky and to what extent he should simplify. The scene between Shekar and Niranjan in the jungle reflects this contemplation. Shekar is no nerd and has no patience to sift through information to understand why their lives are at stake. The way this scene plays out is a hoot and also becomes the director’s tool to make a point about short attention spans.
The only time the film unabashedly succumbs to box office whims is in the song featuring Sunny Leone.
Look closely and a few bloopers crop up. Some questions also remain. But there’s a lot to appreciate in this thriller than nitpick.
Finally, there’s also a hint of a sequel.
PSV Garuda Vega 126.18M
Cast: Dr Rajasekhar, Adith, Ravi Varma and Pooja Kumar
Direction: Praveen Sattaru
Storyline: The NIA tracks sporadic smaller crimes behind which hides a burgeoning nuclear scam.