1,500 shots of CGI is no mean achievement. Shooting a movie where the entire second half is about space and Extra Vehicular Activity is no mean achievement either. Sankalp Reddy of Ghazi Attack fame has showed guts to pick a theme like this and for that, he should be lauded along with Varun Tej, who has almost sacrificed himself to make this movie work (yep, he isn’t stealing the show, like heroes are expected to do in Telugu movies). The movie has some really good conflicts as well. However, all these diverse elements, which are impressive individually, somehow do not fall into place together.
Antariksham is about two separate space missions. In the first, Dev loses everything, and goes into hibernation. He has to come back for the second because well, he is an expert at something (too technical to discuss) no one else can pick up in a short period of time. As expected, a lot of things go wrong and well, get fixed amidst plenty of drama.
Antariksham is more than 2 hours of intense cinema – barely existing love story, couple of witty lines but otherwise (thank god for that) no unnecessary comedy, no song and dance routines, and no fights. It is about a space organisation and nationalism, which sometimes goes overboard. Therein lies the movie’s Achilles’ heel. Characters in the movie are driven by personal conflict and name it national pride. Rules are broken, protocols are broken making the educated audience (you cannot really understand half the things if you don’t understand the difference between a circular orbit and an elliptical orbit) wonder what is happening.
The movie takes creative liberties and that is okay. Didn’t we accept Gravity or The Martian. However, it is hard to root for the protagonist here. There is a genuine conflict here. There are disgruntled astronauts involved. Their anger is genuine too. But going absolutely berserk in space and putting everyone’s life at risk – that is okay for a movie on factionalism, I don’t think it’s okay for a space movie. The movie compromises a little logic for drama, which was not required.
Kudos to the scriptwriter for actually coming up with a brilliant space-based story, a genuinely innovative concept and a nice back story. VS Gnanasekhar’s camera work is equally brilliant and so are the in-space shots. They are awesome for a Telugu movie. The technical content of the movie doesn’t make you think you are watching a low-budget movie. The movie keeps you riveted as well. But it doesn’t give you the high you are bracing yourself for. It doesn’t give you that high because you are left wondering, “Wait, is that a space centre or a one-man-show?”
Varun Tej as Dev is angsty, temperamental and obsessed. He doesn’t do too poorly and neither does Srinivas Avasarala as the calm friend. Aditi Rao Hydari’s character starts out with a brilliant promise and is right there till the end of the story – thumbs up to the writer for accommodating that. Somehow, everything gets dragged into a whirlwind of things that don’t give you time to process.
All in all, the movie tries well and tries something novel, and it deserves credit for that. It is not a bad movie. It does a lot of things right and is definitely worth a watch. But it needed more meat over the conflicts. At the moment, it looks a little undercooked.
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.