Why, oh why, should Pokiri be unboxed and repackaged by several filmmakers and Puri Jagannadh (writer-director of Pokiri) himself? Puri does it this time with an actor who is in his late 50s. Scratch that. Scratch that. How can Balakrishna be in his 50s when he acts like a 15-year-old teenager on drugs?
The trailer offered a truck-load of punch-dialogues which, I thought, could tickle the funny bones of patients near death. Lines like, “I have made people who drank water in Bihar, pee in Tihar,” and, “If my anger is unquenched, I’ll wake up the dead body and kill it again,” are catchy. I have always believed in laughter therapy. But the movie, in its entirety, left me with a terrible headache. Who’s the patient now?
Puri made the idea of a cop working as a thug a rage in Pokiri. Since then, he’s made more than a dozen films which range between “okay enough” to “poor… sheesh”. Paisa Vasool, with all its thunderous dialogues and silly moments, moves to the bottom category.
Balakrishna plays a nuthead named Theda Singh (there’s an actual Wikipedia page that lists Theda Singh’s crimes and achievements; this is the real deal) who’s afraid of nothing. Theda Singh is the sort of hero who doesn’t break into a sweat when 15-20 men point guns at him (again, a nod to Pokiri). He, however, cowers when questioned by a woman. The reason is not that he goes weak in the knees in her presence. He tells us that only his fans, or family members, can hurt him. Who was that speaking? Theda Singh, or Balakrishna? I’m not sure.
The horror of horrors is watching Balakrishna woo ladies with body language and dialogues that shout “harassment”. I don’t know how women in Puri’s films consider that to be cute! Masala entertainers with a top male star will, at least, have two ladies in the lead. In Paisa Vasool, the count is three. Balakrishna makes an entry with an item song and introduces his character, Theda Singh, to the audience and the show-stealer of the song, Kyra Dutt. Kyra is taken aback by Theda’s introductory speech. A few minutes later, she shocks Theda and the audience by saying she’s a police officer. Now, Theda is disappointed that Kyra is not an “item”.
What can be expected of a movie in which a female actor (Shriya), even after starring in 50+ films, dances to a song that is sung by the hero in praise of the hero? Zero respect for character development!
Balakrishna began the year with Krish’s Gautamiputra Satakarni. In GS, he reminded the viewers that he could still play a character, and not just a larger-than-life version of himself on screen. The Krish film, too, had thigh-slapping dialogues and "Indian family" sentiments. Yet, the viewers could take home the memory of watching a gripping movie. And, within eight months, the actor has jumped back to the terrain of the '90s. If the title refers to the entertainment that the movie provides for the price of the ticket, then it has visibly failed.