Chiranjeevi Sarja is undoubtedly the busiest actor in Sandalwood. In the last 50 days, he has had three releases. In January, it was Khakhi, in February it was Aadya, and now Shivarjuna. He has four movies lined up and at this rate, he may soon break movie release-related records.
Known for his action films, Chiranjeevi is also called the ‚Äúking of remakes‚ÄĚ. Of the 22 films he has acted in, including his cameo appearances, 14 of them are remakes. Fortunately (or unfortunately?!), Shivarjuna, directed by Shiva Tejass, is not a remake, but the content is a copy-paste of several Telugu films and one particular Tamil film with minor tweaks.
Shiva (Chiranjeevi) is a short-tempered man. He, along with a doctor (Sadhu Kokila) and his assistants - Kuri Pratap, Shivraj KR Pete, Akshata Srinivas ‚Äď are all living in a PG. A government official (Tara) is irked with Shiva‚Äôs constant fights (so are we, within the first 30 minutes) in the locality. She tries to keep her son Nandi away from Shiva as much as possible. But, there is a reason why Shiva is fighting off those goons ‚Äď and the reason is revealed just before the intermission.
We also have Akshata Srinivas in the first half, and her role is to seduce men by showing off her cleavage and take crass comedy from the trio. The second half opens with a temple in between two scenic villages - Rayadurga and Ramadurga. The chieftains - Rayappa (Avinash) of Rayadurga and Ramappa (Ravi Kishen) of Ramadurga ‚Äď are up in arms against each other. What an innovative way to name villages and chieftains, you may wonder! There is enmity between these two villages. Why and how? Well, you may have already seen it in many movies, and it is no different here! Ramappa‚Äôs relative Amruta Iyengar, who is madly in love with Shiva since her childhood, provides the glamour in the second half.
There is barely anything positive about Shivarjuna. The music is pathetic, the choreography is average, the story has no logic, the screenplay makes absolutely no sense and the narration is worse. Two things that will haunt you after coming out of the theatre ‚Äď one, why was this movie ever made and two, why is a talented actor like Chiranjeevi lowering his standards by being part of such movies?
The movie has borrowed several elements from the Tamil film Giri (starring Chiru‚Äôs uncle Arjun Sarja). The way the movie takes off, the screenplay, the plot, and the striking similarity between Kishore and Prakash Raj‚Äôs roles and Tara and Devayani‚Äôs roles and Akshata and Reema Sen‚Äôs roles ‚Äď it is all very evident that the makers have made minimal effort to make some changes here and there and present it as an original film!
Chiranjeevi has a unique fanbase. Despite most of his films being remakes, the actor in him brings out the best work on screen, be it the loverboy in Ajith (remake of Paiyya) or the tough cop in Dandam Dashagunam (remake of Kaakha Kaakha). He even easily did the undoable, playing a beggar in Amma I Love You (remake of Picchaikaran). But his last few films seem to have pushed Chiru to the edge where he seems to be accepting any movie that comes his way and is not even making an attempt to come out of the bubble that he has built for himself. All his movies seem to unapologetically glorify action and forget the most important factor in any commercial film ‚Äď entertainment.
In Shivarjuna too, his role is no different. Has he gotten too comfortable playing these roles, or has he simply lowered his standards? Only Chiru can answer this question. The year 2020 is a hattrick year for lead actor Amruta Iyengar as well. After playing second fiddle in the last two releases this year ‚Äď Love Mocktail and Popcorn Monkey Tiger, Amruta seems to have finally landed in the lead role in Shivarjuna, but at what cost? Well, let‚Äôs just say it is nothing but an extended cameo amid all the action our hero puts us through. Amruta‚Äôs bearable screen presence helps her, but her emotional scenes are too much to take. The drunken acting! Oh! Let‚Äôs just leave it there.
Seniors Avinash, Tara, Kishore and Ravi Kishen have performed well. Ravi‚Äôs dubbing artist could have done a better job. The lip sync error is a major glare. Sadhu Kokila, Kuri Pratap, Shivraj KR Pete make you cringe with their sexist, double-meaning dialogues. The first half is all about such innuendo, comparing women to every sleazy thing possible. The movie was given an 'A' certificate and while you may assume that this is for all the gory action scenes in the film, it's not. It is for the sleazy dialogues in the first half. The crass comedy puts any ‚ÄėA‚Äô rated movie to shame. In the first half, you cannot wait for the intermission to come and post that, you cannot wait to get out of the theatre.
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.