The last sports drama I watched was Pa Ranjith’s critically acclaimed film Sarpatta Parambarai. The film had a beautiful subtext inverting the story from the Hindu epic Mahabharata, where Ranjith told the story from the perspective of Ekalavya, who loses his thumb because of deceit. Dheerendra Santhossh Jagarlapudi’s Lakshya — starring actors Naga Shaurya and Ketika Sharma — also does a retelling of the same epic. Santhossh does tell the story from an interesting perspective, where he initially portrays the male lead as Arjuna from the epic, and while concluding the story, turns him into Ekalavya. While this is my reading of the film, I doubt if Lakshya deserves so much critical understanding.
Lakshya is a typical sports drama. There is the rise and fall of the main character, and the eventual victory, overcoming all odds. In the film, Naga Shaurya plays Pardhu; Ketika Sharma plays Rithika. Pardhu is a gifted archer. He acquired the skill from his father, also an archer, who died in an accident when Pardhu was an infant. So, apparently it was in his blood to become an archer.
As both his parents pass away in a tragedy, Pardhu is raised by his grandfather (Sachin Khedekar) who sells away all his property to fulfill his grandson’s dream of becoming a champion. And like a typical Telugu film, Pardhu has a girlfriend, Rithika. We don’t know what she does, but since it is a mainstream film where a romantic story is a must, the character of Rithika is brought into the story. Rithika’s only job is to be a cheerleader to Pardhu, defending him against her mother’s taunts. As you must have guessed by now, there is also a friend character, Balu (played by comedian Satya). Satya’s job is no different. He, too, has to cheer up Pardhu and support him. And yes, we don’t know what he does. The film is all about Pardhu and his sob story.
According to the Bechdel test, which is a measure of representation of women in fiction, two women should talk about something other than a man to pass the test. In Lakshya, this theory would be put to shame, as even the men talk only about Pardhu.
Lakshya is like a powerpoint presentation with sound effects and fight sequences. It doesn’t qualify to be a film. It is drab, where each predictable scene is made in chronological order. The writing is terrible. The filmmaker relies heavily on dialogues to convey what is happening, even when it is obvious. For example: Pardhu’s wrist is badly injured. The doctors and other characters keep emphasizing that this would affect his career. Pardhu, who gains consciousness, again repeats: “What happened to my arm?” Seriously?!
When the dialogue doesn’t seem to help, the background music does the job of telling us that this particular scene is sad, this is tragic, this is romantic etc. You get it right? Or should I add some background music to convey what I am feeling?
Lakshya would probably not even have qualified for a college film festival, and I am wondering how Dheerendra Santhossh Jagarlapudi convinced the producers and the cast to work in the film. Naga Shaurya put months of effort into transforming his body and growing his hair — all for this.
Within the first few minutes of the film, I knew that was going to be a trainwreck. But I don’t enjoy the luxury of bolting out of the theatre during the intermission like the others at the theatre. (I’m looking at you, Sowmya Rajendran.)
This epic tragedy of a film would be incomplete, the director must have thought, if he didn’t bring in Jagapathi Babu. And so, Jagapathi Babu tells us an unconvincing story about how he was friends with Pardhu’s father and takes care of Pardhu when everyone abandons him. While the filmmaker must have thought that Jagapathi Babu’s character would be a noble man, similar to a spirit animal, I kept wondering if Pardhu, who was under a serious load of drugs, was hallucinating. And that could be completely true, since Jagapathi Babu comes wearing clothes like Pardhu’s grandfather, and utters the exact same dialogue when he is about to fall. In case I forgot to tell, just like how the film relies on dialogues, Pardhu is extremely dependent on his grandfather.
Watching the climax was an experience in itself. Jagapathi Babu narrating and detailing each and every moment of what Pardhu was doing, was like watching the National Geographic channel, where the narrator is making all the observations.
It is funny how a movie which ultimately gives an optimistic message about self-determination, confidence etc, does the exact opposite to the viewer.