We have been treated to more than enough number of mafia-based films where bomb blast conspiracies are frivolously hatched by just one don and his cohorts. In real life there are Al Quedas, LeTs, Illakatha Mafiliyas (an honorable addition by Vennela Kishore's Jaffa) and sundry organizations of crooks but in our movies there is just one Nana Bhai, who is invariably sentimental so much so he doesn't think twice before attending the funeral of his favorite associate even if it means risking his life.
No sooner than this suave and impulsive terrorist boss announces that he wants to be at the burial ground in Malaysia, than the cops as well as the hero are there at the scene, as if they were told about the boss' arrival by a common relative. Such is the stuff our films are made of, it is no wonder that when even a Box Office 'baadshah' can't be relied upon to make the cash registers ringing for weeks on end, the honorable services of real protagonists like Brahmi or MS Nayarana are chipped in by our brilliant filmmakers.
As one watches the first five minutes of 'Shadow' two things become clear in no time. That it is going to be a revenge story; that the hero will save the country. Since one was not watching a Sreenu Vaitla film, it might become somewhat difficult to predict the pride of place MS will come to occupy as Psycho Seenu.
It goes to show the paltry amount of conviction that our directors have in their wafer-thin story lines when they bank on the same bunch of comedians, who are conned and victimized by the omnipotent hero. It looked a terrific mix of massy heroism and situational comedy in 'Dookudu', the way our directors/writers are allowing themselves to be deluded into thinking that the audience can be taken for a ride by presenting old wine in a snazzy bottle, leaves a sore taste in mouth.
Way back in 1993, an intrepid investigative journalist (Naga Babu) collected details of a mammoth conspiracy to rattle Mumbai in March. Even before he could submit the findings to one media organization, the terrorists come to know of it and they decide to finish him off. The journo foolishly wrote on a piece of paper "Please publish the news in this cassette" as if an editor would not know it otherwise and gave it to his (brave) school-going son. Cut to the present minutes later, we see Shadow (S/o Rajaram) appear and say that his past is a mystery, he will create history and his ways are of victory.
Between eliminating the trusted lieutenants of Nana Bhai one after one, in different get-ups (Vaitla's obsession is with variations, Meher's is with get-ups, so it looks), in different places, we are treated to a gag of silly scenes involving MS, Tapsee, Venky and a host of other sidekicks (who don't register with us as much as we try hard).
For a change, we have Shadow turning into Chanti and one can only imagine how a killer would fit into the proceedings when he is made to act like a child or parody Pawan 'uncle' for a change. It has been a year since 'Gabbar Singh' created waves at the BO and it would seem that Venky-Meher duo thought it apt to pay a tribute to the Antyakshari scene. The copy cat act of the director is not even remotely funny, the scene surprises only because Venky joyfully casts himself as Power Star.
When it is not second-rate comedy time, it is a triangular fight between Shadow, the mafiosi and the cops. The last, headed by Srikanth, keep chasing the elusive Shadow and not the terrorists, even as the latter are well advanced in their plans to rattle Hyderabad on Oct 2. There is place for one Acharyaji, a Gandhian resembling Anna Hazare in demeanor.
At the interval bang, the only relief that comes is that Chanti metamorphoses into Shadow, thanks to a video chat. It is unimaginable that the memory loss element was thought appropriate in a film like this. It robs the already thin plot of its seriousness. There are not many who might enjoy to watch Venky saying Mahesh uncle, Charan annayya and so on.
The second half had nothing going for it, the director realized that the remaining murders must be elaborately picturised and he did just that. JP, MS and Venky calling themselves Tulasi, Nagavalli and Lakshmi evokes a few laughs, the part is a bright spot of the film.
Thaman did a good job but the snazzy flavour of his music was not elevated through the filming of the songs. Venky looks quite off-colour in the songs, Tapsee should work on her expressions and not be content with playing the sultry lady.
The film belongs to two heroes, namely Venky and MS. Kona Venkat and Meher Ramesh fail to give a single satisfying one liner, the hero should have been projected as a saviour and not just an avenger. The cinematography could have dumbed down the chaotic effect of the incongruous gun battles and a chasing scene or two.
One expected Meher to present Venky in a new fashion but he disappoints by concentrating on the costumes, the hair-do (which ironically makes Venky look older) and the settings in which the murders take place.
Verdict: 'Shadow' ends up to be a mere shadow of everything that the director wanted to do. Even Venky is a shadow of his energetic and righteously emotional self in an ill-etched role.
Released on: 26th April, 2013