Review Movies

‘Saaho’ review: Prabhas' latest is a missed opportunity

Prabhas in the film  

About an hour into Saaho, when a group of police officers are strategising to hunt down a smart thief, Prabhas (as police officer Ashok Chakravarthy) tells his peers that the thief is most likely to know all their moves — he is smarter than the police who learns of things later. He makes a point of how the police has to think like a criminal to be a step ahead and nab a suspect. Fair enough. But, while narrating such a story on large screen, aiming to entertain the pan-Indian audience (Saaho was simultaneously filmed in Telugu and Hindi, and dubbed in Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam) that has watched quite a few edge-of-the-seat thrillers over the years, the writing needs to be a notch above, to maintain the suspension of disbelief and not let the audience second guess what’s coming.

In Saaho, connecting the dots seems like child’s play. The interval twist and the one at the climax don’t hold any surprises.

In the fictitious Waaji City that’s dominated by gangsters, Roy’s (Jackie Shroff) group of companies are on shaky turf after his sudden death. An heir apparent shows up from nowhere but the power struggle continues. A black box hidden somewhere in Mumbai apparently holds the key to a locker, which will provide crucial answers to the power struggle.

Saaho (Telugu)
  • Cast: Prabhas, Shraddha Kapoor
  • Direction: Sujeeth

Meanwhile the Mumbai police is on an edge, after a bunch of harmless citizens have carried out a strange set of instructions in chain reaction and unwittingly paved way to a theft. A special team is formed, which includes Amrita Nair (Shraddha Kapoor), David (Murali Sharma), Vennela Kishore and Prakash Belawadi, among others.

Saaho is populated with well known actors. Among them, Chunky Pandey as Devraj, Arun Vijay as Vishwak, Mandira Bedi as Kalki, and Neil Nitin Mukesh in a pivotal role make their presence felt. Jackie Shroff, Mahesh Manjrekar, Tinnu Anand and a host of others are mere bystanders without much to do. In his characteristic style, Vennela Kishore tries to induce a few laughs but there are no smart lines or situations to help him do that.

In one scene, when Shraddha asks Prabhas if she’s useful in anyway to the special team, since he has all the answers himself, it’s unintentionally funny. She’s cast in a role that’s far from a smart cop. If she looks lost, blame it on the lacklustre material she’s been provided with.

Prabhas is in a shape-shifting role that, had it been written and enacted well, would hold intrigue. Barring that 18-minute chase sequence with a Jetman action piece and some shots that present him as a suave superhero-like figure, he too looks lost. There’s a thin line between projecting a casual cool persona and coming across as disinterested. Prabhas’s demeanour and laidback dialogue delivery, like a drawl, don’t live up to the heroic build up in the dialogues. It’s important to show, rather than just tell, how smart a character is. That doesn’t happen at all in Saaho.

The much talked about action sequences are fun to watch but not truly awe-inducing. Smart wheels for a smart thief? We’ve seen that closer home in the Dhoom series. The protagonist standing at the edge of a skyscraper and gazing into the city at night, his brow heavy with thoughts? We’ve seen that in superhero films.

Saaho feels bloated with a duration of 172 minutes and is boring in portions.

Cinematographer Madhie and Ghibran with his background score try their best to dress up an uninspiring story.

The witty one-liners — like the comment about fans and die-hard fans, hitting a sixer in the stadium and not gully cricket — there isn’t much apart from what we have seen in the trailer.

Saaho was an opportunity to follow up on Baahubali, which had both scale and imagination, and blur the boundaries between regional and national cinema once again. Sadly, it ends up as a missed opportunity.

The last scene hints at a sequel. If it happens, it will need a better story and screenplay.

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Printable version | May 5, 2021 4:46:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/saaho-review-missed-opportunity/article29298631.ece

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