Sandalwood
The second half is what makes the movie a must-watch.
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In India, sports is often treated as a hobby. No matter how good you are at it, you are allowed to pursue it only after you prove yourself in academics. Underprivileged children are often left out and their dreams are crushed by poverty and hunger. Pailwaan speaks for all the unfortunates who are pushed out of the race. Sudeep-Krishna’s second film after Hebbuli, Pailwaan is a clear winner, except for the pardonable sluggish first half. 

Sarkaar (Suniel Shetty), a wrestler, has quit practice to find a suitable candidate who can represent the country at the national level wrestling championship. His trained eye spots an orphan, an angry young boy fighting on the streets. Soon, he adopts him and trains him. The boy grows up to be Pailwaan Kicchha aka Krishna (Sudeep) who is well-known in his village for his bravery and game tactics. On a fateful day, when he is about to be selected for the national level, Krishna comes face-to-face with a bigger challenge, which makes him go underground for years. But, Pailwaan Kicchha has to come back, and this time for a bigger cause.

The extremely predictable first half is the biggest flaw of Pailwaan. The movie, in fact, takes off with the clichéd scene of a man adopting an orphan. From romantic scenes to father-son emotional sequences to not-so-well-choreographed wrestling scenes, the first half makes the film all talk and no play. But a terrific scene before the intermission paves way for a brilliant second half, leading us to a nail-biting climax.

In fact, Pailwaan’s second half is what makes the movie a must-watch. “Everybody has a dream, but hunger destroys the dreams of the poor,” says Vaijanath Biradar in the second half. The slow-paced film isn’t the same after this dialogue. The second half evokes a variety of emotions - laughter and tears, and provides the perfect catharsis as the film progresses towards the climax.

Sudeep’s effort in the gym have translated beautifully on screen. He gets four entry scenes and all four are worthy of the fans’ whistles, screams and hoots. He has executed the wrestling and boxing sequences comfortably. In the climax boxing scene, Sudeep struggles to differentiate between wrestling and boxing and takes some time to settle in the boxing ring. This may have been choreographed to make it look realistic.

Throughout the film, Suniel is seen in a typical white-and-white shirt-dhoti, which goes well with his ‘I only speak with my eyes and my Pailwaan executes my orders’ attitude. His characterisation as a composed, tough nut to crack complements the storyline. Speaking of villains, Kabir Singh Dulhan aka boxer Tony excels as a merciless monster. Sushant Singh (as Raja Rana Pratap Verma of Rankapura) too poses tough competition, but loses out in the dubbing. Better lip-sync would have given the much-needed push to his role. Aakanksha Singh as Rukmini passes with flying colours, looking stylish and homely in turns as the script demands. Sharath Lohitashwa does the job of the boxing coach well.

Appanna of Comedy Kiladigalu fame is competent, but it is the jokes in the script that are not up to the mark. Sandalwood writers really need to work on bringing out actual comedy rather than simply cracking sexist, innuendo laden jokes.

Director Krishna has woven a tale that will cater to various sections of the audience. Pailwaan is miles ahead of Hebbuli and shows that the director has really grown.

Arjun Janya’s music could have been better. The album has seven songs and except for "Banda Nodu Pailwaan" theme and "Baaro Pailwaan", the songs don’t make an impression.

A superstar’s film is viewed with leniency when it comes to defying Newton’s laws of gravity. But, Pailwaan makers haven’t gone overboard. Action scenes have been choreographed keeping the audience, fans, wrestling and boxing rules and gravitational force in mind.

Prior to its release, there were several comparisons with Salman Khan’s Sultaan, but Pailwaan is not similar to the Hindi film. Though Pailwaan is about a wrestler making it big in the boxing ring, the heart of the story is completely different, and Sudeep delivers it with a punch. 

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.