Banners: UV Creations, T-Series
Cast: Prabhas, Shraddha Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Chunky Panday, Mandira Bedi, Murali Sharma, Arun Vijay, Mahesh Manjrekar. Prakash Belawadi
Writers: Sujeeth, Hussain Dalal (Hindi dialogue)
Music: Tanishk Bagchi, Guru Randhawa, Badshah, Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy
Ambition is a good thing especially while making a massive budget film like Saaho. And that is what the makers of this latest release intended to do, evidently. Vamsi and Pramod from UV Creations and director Sujeeth clearly had the aim of taking their lead actor Prabhas and his film Saaho to the next level after the humungous success of Baahubali- 1 and 2.
While Baahubali was a period fantasy drama set in a time centuries ago, Saaho is an attempt to take the stardom of Prabhas several notches up. The endeavor was to make a magnum opus and add a futuristic feel to it in order to set a new benchmark for the Indian film industry.
Like we said, ambition is good but what happens when it takes over the sense of reality and pragmatism one needs to have while making a film?
The film begins in two parts, one in a foreign city called Waaji and the second in Mumbai. Waaji is known to be a city where the deadliest of dons reside and the leader of the group is Roy. Tragedy strikes when Roy comes back to India after years. In Mumbai, the police is working to catch a robber who has stolen thousands of crores. The case is handed over to police officer Ashok Chakravorty who works on this with the beautiful and stern Amritha Nair. While the two work on the case together, sparks fly between them. A shocking revelation turns things around. Now, a man named Saaho makes his way to Waaji with his own agendas and with lots of twists and turns and mysterious moments, the film, confusing the audience reaches an end, which unfortunately presents the audience with the possibility of a second instalment.
There seems to be an inherent need in Indian filmmakers to somehow manage to ape the West and Saaho is a blatant example of the same. If one wades through the thick mists of confusion that starts right at the beginning of the film and focuses on understanding the basic storyline, then they will realise that the main plot is an interesting one. This is a script which had a lot of potential on paper but during the execution, the makers, in their overexcitement of the stretched budget, clearly got carried away.
Making a sci-fi action-thriller is never simple but with the attempt to bring in the feel of Mission Impossible, Mad Max and the homegrown Race series, this khichdi finally is left without any taste.
Director Sujeeth, who is also the writer for the film, seems so hell-bent on making the film larger-than-life that critical details of the script were forgotten to be tended to in the entire process. The film looks divorced throughout from one scene to another making the transition anything but seamless.
Like in one scene, the Mumbai Police is striving hard to catch the robber and sets a trap for him at a bank. As the discussions were on, the audience hears about how impenetrable the vault of the bank is but the next scene completely contradicts the theory, leaving them aghast at the shoddy treatment.
Saaho is a film which has been in the making for over a couple of years now and heavy VFX was supposed to be a huge part of it. Unfortunately, the makers have not even done well in that department and have gone overboard there too. Just because the film is supposed to be big on special effects does not mean that they should have used it for each and every scene, especially where it is not necessary at all.
A shot of Prabhas and Shraddha Kapoor standing on a terrace in Mumbai and the skyline in the backdrop seems so artificial that it just draws the attention away from the actors and the scene, even though there was not much to see there anyway.
The dialogue in the film, Hindi ones penned by Hussain Dalal, are clichéd to a certain extent and the few which are good, written to add humour in the scenes, fall flat because of the hackneyed dialogue delivery of Prabhas.
One thing that the film aces in is the action department. The car chases are shot very well and so is the elongated climax. The slo-mo effect and thrilling background score adds to the style, which makes the fight scenes enjoyable but only to the point where you realise that even in the so-called present era, Prabhas is still in his Baahubali zone as he fights 50 goons, is attacked by deadly weapons, battles raging animals, falls from the third floor and all of this without even a scratch on his face.
The film is partially made in Hindi as the makers have very smartly only reshot certain close-up scenes and dubbed the others. Based on the trend of South films, the length is almost three hours, which is far longer than what the Hindi audience is used to. A sharper edit could have been useful at several points throughout the film.
The songs of Saaho, while chartbusters currently, are irregularly placed. The songs only add to the length of the film because none of them play any role in the storyline.
Sujeeth tried his best to rise to the expectations that the audience had attached to Prabhas’ next film after Baahubali. But it seems that the director got a little too ahead of himself with a little too much budget in his hand and unfortunately had a Frankenstein’s monster moment where his creation took a life of its own and scarily so.
Performance-wise, all eyes have been on Prabhas and why shouldn’t it be after the actor gave a Rs 500 crore hit. His fans were eagerly waiting but it is sad to see the revered actor lose his powerful swag on the big screen this time around. The actor seems uncomfortable in some scenes while in others he just looks laid-back. One thing he retains is his intense avatar while performing the action scenes. Shraddha Kapoor’s role is not as meaty as it should have been. The actress tries to do justice to her role but the backdrop and treatment take away what little she could have derived from this film. Jackie Shroff is badass in a cameo. Neil Nitin Mukesh does an impressive job. Chunky Panday is a revelation as he makes evil look so good. Mandira Bedi is average. Murali Sharma is good. Arun Vijay is okay and so is Mahesh Manjrekar. Prakash Belawadi is decent.