Agnyaathavaasi is not just another January release. It is Pawan Kalyan’s 25th film and his third film with director Trivikram. A milestone of sorts for the actor and the director, the film will (also releasing around the time of Sankranti) is a festival for the star’s fans.
The movie is said to be based on the 2008 French film Largo Winch. I haven’t watched the French original, but the plotline of the movie in the Wikipedia page has helped me connect the threads between the source material and today’s release which goes with the tagline “Prince in Exile”.
Trivikram’s title and tagline are more than enough to understand Pawan’s role in Agnyaathavaasi. With Boman Irani and Pawan reuniting on-screen after Attarintiki Daredi, and the sentiments related to family bonding resounding through the film, it’s easy to draw parallels between both films. If Brahmanandam was made a scapegoat in AD and beaten up by Pawan to teach him a lesson, Raghu Babu ends up with the welt marks here. (Likewise, AD's “Kaatama Rayuda” is Agnyaathavaasi’s “Kodaka Koteswara Rao”). Well, Raghu Babu’s character does deserve to be ill-treated, since he slaps his female co-workers’ butts all the time. This is, perhaps, the right time to push the #MeToo movement further with such scenes and situations in Telugu cinema. However, I don’t understand the power they add to the story of a person who’s looking for the killers of his dad and brother. There’s absolutely no rhyme or rhythm to those over-the-top fun moments in this movie.
The Ramesh-Suresh-like comedy (from the 5 Star commercials) involving Rao Ramesh’s Varma and Murali Sharma’s Sharma does bring some laughs. Still, I feel, they belong to another movie since their characters don’t get the required space to stretch their minds and words as Agnyaathavaasi isn’t about them. This isn’t the sort of “beauty” one expects from the house of Trivikram. Slapstick humour has entirely turned into a slap-fest. Are the audiences supposed to laugh for slaps? Haven’t we moved on from that phase yet?
After all these clichéd pricks, I was waiting for that emotional boulder that Trivikram rolled over us in AD. The climactic embrace featuring Kushboo’s Indrani Bhargav and Pawan’s Abhisikth Bhargav misses that mark easily by a mile-and-a-half at least. I could see mere tears on their faces, and not the combination of grief and satisfaction as it should have been.
Trivikram is a rare writer in Telugu cinema as nobody else dials up the beauty quotient of the language the way he does. His dialogues are always a pleasure to listen to. His word-play from Nuvvu Naaku Nachav to Agnyaathavaasi has improved over the years and the beneficiaries (us, of course) are glad about it. A particular line about how people lust after others’ money works greatly, and I instantly realized that there’s no other dialogue (or scene) that can explain the reason for Abhisikth Bhargav becoming the “prince in exile”. Even for a writer of such brilliance, handling female characters is a bit of a problem, I guess. Keerthy Suresh and Anu Emmanuel present pretty pictures of themselves. They are all dolled-up and appear in romantic songs (whose lyrics are heartwarming). Thankfully, they have a few lines to mouth. It would have been a letdown in that department, too, otherwise.
The hero introduction scene where Pawan sits down for a second to collect his thoughts before he begins to throw punches on people who look like extras from Khal Drogo’s (Game of Thrones) army is whistle-worthy. Though the stylized action choreography doesn’t match the energy of the first scene, it, nevertheless, holds up. And, the other crew-member who’s going to walk away with all the glory is composer Anirudh. His score put me in the right mood for two-and-a-half-hours.
PS: I’d like to know what happened to Sampath’s character – ACP. He went back in time and gave us a history lesson on Govinda Bhargav’s family, and thereafter he disappeared. Did Trivikram not care enough to give him a parting shot?
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.