Saindhav review: Venkatesh’s John Wick inspired film is dull and unoriginal
Saindhav (Telugu)(1 / 5)
Expectations were high when Venkatesh announced his 75th film with Sailesh Kolanu, who had delivered two consecutive hits (Hit, Hit: The Second Case). While promoting the film, Sailesh had boldly claimed that the last 20 minutes of Saindhav will remain “one of the best pieces of cinematic experiences anyone could have witnessed in their lives,” which further amplified the curiosity around the film.
Saindhav (Venkatesh), the eponymous protagonist, is a crane operator at a port in a fictional island city called Chandraprastha. The film’s ensemble star cast also includes Shraddha Srinath, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Andrea Jeremaiah, Arya, Ruhani Sharma, and others.
Without keeping his violent past a suspense like Baasha, the filmmaker reveals in the beginning itself that Saindhav Koneru aka Saiko (some wordplay around psycho) was a mercenary. Embarrassingly, the film takes liberal ‘inspiration’ from the Hollywood film John Wick to base its protagonist on. Sailesh simply lifts the story of John Wick and tries to adapt it to Indian sensibilities.
Saindhav’s daughter Gayathri suffers from a rare genetic disorder called spinal muscular atrophy. The disorder is curable, but the cost of its injection is a whopping Rs 17 crore. There are many children with a similar condition who have been dying because they cannot afford the medicines.
Meanwhile, the town of Chandraprastha is also suffering from a “disease” of terrorism. A ‘cartel’ headed by Mithra (Mukesh Rishi) is training child soldiers, so they can be sold as mercenaries for terrorist organisations. Saindhav has taken it upon himself to eliminate both these problems.
The story of John Wick is very simple. John has cut off his ties from the mafia world after his wife’s death. After a villain kills his pet dog gifted by his dead wife, a grief-stricken John goes on a rampage and kills hundreds of people. But what makes John Wick an entertaining film is the set-pieces, the action choreography, and the screenplay. Sailesh tries to emulate the same in Saindhav, except for the dog’s killing.
The film opens in the most dull manner and does not take off at any point. While Sailesh has imagined a fictional world, his imagination stops at convincing the audience that this world is surrounded by water. The film does not offer anything more for the audience to delve into this world ‘reigned’ by a cartel. The audience are kept at a distance, so they cannot really empathise with these characters.
Saindhav also suffers from poor writing, and it is quite shocking that a director who had delivered two edge-of-the-seat thrillers had come up with this film. A lazy approach is evident throughout the film, including in the film’s specially designed Mustang car – again ‘inspired’ from John Wick – equipped with features such as a machine gun, bombs, and self-detonation.
In addition to blatantly rehashing Hollywood films, Sailesh tries to contemporise Saindhav by name-dropping current issues such as the Palestine-Israel conflict. If he had read enough history about the oppression faced by Palestinians, he would probably have been careful while suggesting that Palestinians are terrorists.
Besides, for a good hero elevation, the setup is important. Unfortunately, the relationship between Gayathri and Saindhav is portrayed through the most superficial scenes. The only heartening moment in the film is when Saindhav shares a drink with Mano (Shraddha Srinath).
Saindhav works under a customs officer, who is actually his father-in-law. This is a secret which Saindhav has never disclosed. But after an underwhelming action sequence, Saindhav makes this revelation, and there is no shock nor any dialogue between his father-in-law and him. That is how amateurishly Saindhav is written. The characters in the world are like cardboard cutouts. Without a concrete script, Venkatesh struggles to perform. The dialogues are simply terrible and do not fit the tone of the film.
In this boring sad world, only Nawazuddin offers some solace, not because of his performance but because he makes fun of these soulless characters. Talents such as Arya and Shraddha are wasted in the film, while Nawazuddin is reduced to a caricature and Andrea is blatantly objectified. Saindhav fails miserably as an action-entertainer and the promised “cinematic moments” only induce sleep.
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 producers or any other members of its cast and crew.