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Athadu Back With Pokiri
APK | April 28, 2006
Rating: ***1/2 (***** Very Good, **** Good, *** Fair, ** Average, * Bad)
Cast: Maheshbabu, Ileana, Prakashraj, Ashish Vidyarthi, Sayaji Shinde, Subbaraju, Brahmanandam, Nassar, Ali, Venumadhav, Sudha, Mumait Khan and Others.
Cinematography: Shyam K. Naidu.
Editing: Marthand K. Venkatesh.
Music: Mani Sharma.
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues, Producer & Direction: Puri Jagannath.
Presenter: Smt. Indira.
Banner: Vaishno Academy.
Release Date: 28th April, 2006.
Muscle power. Brutality. Cops and thugs. That is, in a nutshell, what Puri Jagannath's latest flick, 'Pokiri,' is all about. Mahesh Babu returns after a hugely successful 'Athadu,' in and as 'Pokiri' (meaning mischievous) loosely inspired from Mahesh Bhatt's 'Footpath,' which in turn is based on the Hollywood film 'Angels With Dirty Faces'. Puri's trademark direction techniques and certain qualities he chooses in his lead characters and the setting he prefers is seen in this movie too.
Story Cops and thugs is the main theme of most of Puri's movies, and this movie is no different-in this case, the thugs are the now very prevalent and prominent land mafia in Hyderabad. Ali (Prakash Raj) and Narayan (Satya Prakash) are two rival land mafia groups, fighting for supremacy in this city. The good cop, police commissioner Qadri (Sayaji Shinde), wants to capture Dubai-based Ali, while the bad cop, Inspector Pasupathi (Vidyarthi) works for Ali.
Meanwhile, the two groups take turns to recruit Pandu (Mahesh), an eccentric and powerful youngster in the circles, to work for them, as he works for anyone who gives him money and has no issues of loyalty or commitment towards anyone. In the process, he ends up finishing off Narayan's group and is both a favorite and an object of envy for peers in Ali's group. Ali returns to India and is captured by Qadri, but is released because his group gets hold of Qadri's daughter, who reveals to Ali an astonishing secret, which is a dramatic twist before the climax. Shruti, an aerobics teacher and Pandu are in love, although she is disgusted with his violent profession, can't stop herself from being with him; but obviously, the bad cop, Pasupathi torments her and her family. How Ali is caught and Qadri's daughter saved, and how Pandu deals with Pasupathi forms the rest of the story.
The twist before the climax, Screenplay and Direction We've seen this before, people have done this before. But Puri adds his own touch to it, his technique and the unique way in which he handles his characters, and does it well this time (after a dismal 'Super') and now it's time to take a bow again. The director who made Idiot and Sivamani is back. There are some similarities and a thread running through all of his movies-his heroes are mostly eccentric, annoyingly stubborn and sincere in love; there is Prakash Raj being tormented by the lead, and is made to ham (although the audiences appreciate that hamming-it increases the hero's appeal), the heroine suddenly starts loving the hero madly, and there's total chaos and violence right before the end. He's in form again, and handles the actors and the situations quite well, trying nothing new here, but sticking to the old and doing a good job of it.
The action sequences are well etched out, although there's lot of killing and loads of drama here, it is slick and pacy, making sure Mahesh's fans and morning crowds get their money's worth (apart from Mumait Khan's item number). There is a comedy track with Brahmanandam, Ali and Venu Madhav which seems mandatory in today's Telugu movies-it generates a few laughs, but adds nothing to the movie. Puri's specialty is characterizations, totally neglected in his last release 'Super,' but it's good to see him back in form again.
Performances Mahesh Babu's fans are in for a treat. But do the film makers consciously give him very few lines to say? Either ways, it works out for both-Mahesh and the audience. The top Telugu actors perform for their admirers, and it shows. The mannerisms he develops and the subdued energy he displays for this role is for 'Prince' fans, and they are bound to love it. He has an 'Athadu' hangover, and thankfully for him, his director doesn't have a 'Super' hangover, and brings out one of his better performances, although, Mahesh's potential has not fully been explored till date. Ileana looks cute and, as the story requires, quite helpless.
Prakash Raj hams through the movie, and that's a shame, because he's actually a very good performer; sometimes, it seems, people just prefer some actors hamming rather than acting. Shinde as the good cop does a fairly good job, and Vidhyarthi does his bit too, although he's done this in many movies before, like 'Sriram' and others. Don't good actors like him, Prakash Raj, Brahmanandam ever get bored of doing the same thing again and again? Puri chooses his actors safely-no experiments here, and they all do their roles like they've had enough practice with such roles and deliver their goods. Nasser, in a very short role, is impressive.
Running around the trees.. The picturizations of all the songs are good-forgettable, but watchable as long as one is in the theatre. Mahesh and Ileana look good together and dance well. Mahesh lights up the screen in 'Jagadame,' which is his 'Intro song'. Ileana prances around nicely in her costumes to match her well-maintained figure, and the curvy Mumait Khan sizzles in 'Ippatikinka Na Vayasu'.
The director speaks Puri uses some real situations and incidents cleverly to weave a plot that is here and now. Land mafia and extortions are not unknown in the city, but apart from that, he uses the character of Qadri to talk about various issues which seem to be stinging him. He talks about media ethics, like journalists interviewing Veerappan and Moddhu Srinu while the police frantically search for them, the way they air programs which show reconstructions of crimes and gory incidents and news channels airing scandalous MMS clips to gain TRPs. He has a message to deliver, and is not going to be caught getting preachy in this hardcore commercial flick, but he speaks his mind cleverly and clearly.
And the verdict is.. A tried and tested theme, a last minute twist, a superman hero and a damsel in distress-Puri plays it safe, and Mahesh does nothing new. But it is a nice entertainer, and something to pass three hours of time and evade the summer sun at the same time. Mahesh has a screen presence and a quiet charm, and is watchable, whether or not one admires him. After 'Athadu,' Mahesh is back with another action flick, and is sure to score a hit again.