Review Reviews

'Arjun Suravaram' movie review: A reasonably engaging thriller

Nikhil as an investigative thriller in the film   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Jokes aren’t the best part of Arjun Suravaram. A news channel CEO announces gleefully that after being in the 48th position they have now climbed up to… 46th position. Ahem! Somewhere else, a house help who has a crush on a lawyer tells him that he smells like stale egg and phenyl, and she likes it.

Thankfully, such ‘jokes’ are brushed away and the film moves on to its main plot about an investigative reporter busting a network that issues fake certificates by cloning existing ones. Director T N Santhosh remakes his Tamil film Kanithan (2016), contextualising it for the Telugu region wherever necessary.

Arjun Suravaram
  • Cast: Nikhil Siddhartha, Lavanya Tripathi, Vennela Kishore
  • Direction: T N Santhosh

A newsreader father (Nagineedu) is disillusioned with the dilution in news. He hates it that a celebrity’s diet becomes prime time news and he hates the tendency to sensationalise headlines. He dissuades his son from joining the media and is glad that he works in, where else, an IT company. He isn’t aware that the son, Arjun Lenin Suravaram (Nikhil Siddhartha), has quit the IT job and is working as an investigative reporter for a TV channel.

In one of the initial sequences, when Arjun and his friend (Satya) land in a spot during a sting operation at a pub after an absolutely silly gaffe, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this film. Many Telugu films in recent years have shown reporters to be extremely silly or plain opportunists, if not both. Though this film begins on a shaky note, it gathers momentum from the minute Arjun is taken away by cops, charged with submitting fake certificates.

The reporter soon finds himself unravelling a factory-like making of fake documents that has enabled unqualified men to take up coveted positions — as bank officers, lawyers, engineers, doctors…

The episode that shows the implications of an unqualified engineer building a school premises, and the episode that shows a son who is disillusioned that he’s unable to help his parents, are reminiscent of narrations we would find in a Shankar film. But Arjun is not a vigilante. Enraged, he investigates further to expose the culprits.

The film is engrossing when it focuses on its main plot. Nikhil has the knack of choosing interesting stories and effectively portrays the part of a purpose-driven reporter who is vulnerable when the tables turn against him. Lavanya as the aspiring journalist has a role that’s comparatively limited in scope but she does it efficiently.

The cat-and-mouse game between Arjun and the scamster (Tarun Arora) leads to tense moments, especially in the fun pre-interval segment that also involves Vennela Kishore. Just when it feels like the stage is set for a battle of nerves between observant people who pre-empt each other’s moves, mandatory action sequences are thrown in. There’s no escaping those hero-appeasing stunt sequences, isnt’ it? On the bright side, a few of them are staged well. Like the one featuring a baddie who does Parkour-like stunts. Sahi Suresh’s art direction and Suryaa’s cinematography deserve a mention.

The story has its share of father-son bonds. More than the bond between Nagineedu and Nikhil, I was moved by the one between lawyer Vennela Kishore and his father, the police constable (Posani Krishna Murali). Kishore and Posani get roles that have a mix of comic fun and righteousness, and they make good use of it.

With some more thought and effort, Arjun Suravanam could have been among the notable films this year. It’s laughable when the CEO of a TV channel introduces Arjun as a senior reporter with ‘one year experience’. The BBC interview and the comic bits featuring Vidyu Raman weren’t great either.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 9:44:36 PM |

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