Cinema

Aagadu review: Without a pause

Mahesh Babu plays a cop in the film  

This film couldn’t have had a better title. Nearly every actor in Aagadu is unstoppable. Director Sreenu Vaitla wants his film to do the talking, literally. The writers may have written not pages, but a complete book of lengthy dialogues in advance to enable the actors memorise, rehearse and deliver the lines without a pause. It’s a blessing they don’t pause, because the punctuations could have extended the film by another 30 minutes. Aagadu is now 165 minutes.

Sreenu Vaitla and Mahesh return from their last successful outing, Dookudu, with the confidence of drawing the crowds with another fast-paced ‘masala’ entertainment. Shankar (Mahesh), or encounter Shankar as he is known, comes to Bukkapatnam with a mission of bringing to book the local don, Damodar (Sonu Sood). Liquor and betting are small businesses for Damodar. Backed by men in power, he eyes a power project that could spell doom for the hamlet. Circle inspector Shankar requires more than brawn power to outwit Damodar.

In Mahesh, Sreenu Vaitla finds the perfect foil for a smart alec cop who can mix wit with muscle power. The actor exudes confidence and plays his role to the hilt. He turns around the non-functioning police station in the town and makes his victims sing to his tunes not by force, but with storytelling. It’s fun to watch the first goon buying Shankar’s re-telling of Dookudu and spilling the beans on his liquor business. But when the same trick is applied to other benamis of Damodar, with re-tellings of Seethamma Vaakitlo Sirimalle Chettu and other films, the novelty wears out.

No-nonsense cops in most mainstream films are driven by personal reasons for revenge, apart from a sense of duty. Shankar is no exception. Aagadu is a simple, oft-repeated cop vs. don story. The difference here is the don is reduced to a cardboard. For a mind game to be interesting, both players need to be smart and second guess the opponent’s next move, which doesn’t happen here.

The end, when it comes, is hurried and with no surprises. No, making Brahmanandam dance to popular hits in the climax is not fun any more.

A battalion of actors from Sonu Sood to Rajendra Prasad, Ajay to M.S. Narayana, Brahmanandam to Posani, do their bit in a star-driven film. Tamannaah and her folks are a riot, as a family that will do anything to market their sweet store. The gay humour involving Ashish Vidyarthi, though, is in poor taste.

If one is looking for gags, Aagadu offers them in plenty. What’s a Telugu commercial film without its gags? Who wouldn’t like the idea of Mahesh and goons locked in a mock game show? And there’s no dearth of laughter if Mahesh and Brahmanandam are in a battle of one-upmanship.

But try an overdose of this formula and it could be tiring. Add to that Thaman’s high decibel score and a discerning viewer would be left longing for a few quiet moments. K.V. Guhan’s cinematography adds to the slick quality of the film.

Aagadu

Cast: Mahesh Babu, Tamannaah, Sonu Sood, Brahmanandam and others.

Direction: Sreenu Vaitla

Music: S. Thaman

Storyline: A circle inspector hunts down a don.

Bottomline: Brevity is a forgotten word.

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 8:44:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/aagadu-review/article6426456.ece

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