Two strangers meet on a train. There is a murder somewhere. An innocent man is framed for the murder. He is on the run and tries to fill in the crossword puzzle as to who framed him and why? Now, that's interesting story to keep the audience glued with spine-chilling suspense and drama. Visakha Express, promised all this and more. In all fairness to the director, he has all his components right. But then, how is the final product?
Tepid. That's how the film is in one word. It warms you up initially and makes you hope for a rather thrilling whodunit. But what you end up settling for is a rather boring and 'oh-we-have-seen-it-before' film. Heavily inspired by the suspense maestro Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, it is no where nearer to the original. Honestly, that is not what works against Visakha Express. It is actually the tackling and rehashing of the plot that takes its toll on the suspense drama.
As for the plot, it is a battle of wits between Dr Raja (Rajeev Kanakala) and Raja Ravi Varma or Ravi Varma (Allari Naresh) in short. The two complete strangers meet on train and in that ultimate moment of male bonding, pour out their troublesome lives to each other. While Dr Raja is traumatized because of his alcoholic father Kota Srinivasa Rao, Ravi Varma wants to get rid of his wife. In fact, they even plot to kill each other's 'troublesome family member' for fun. However, once they reach their destination, they part ways and continue with their lives.
Destiny does not bring them together till Raja's father is admitted to his hospital after a serious injury. As if this were not enough, he dies after being poisoned. Naturally, all eyes are on Dr Raja as the son who despised his father. On the run, he once again bumps into Ravi Varma. Only this time, he is in for a rude shock as he finds out that it is Ravi Varma who had murdered his father and that it is his turn to murder Ravi Varma's wife. From here on, it is a down the hill ride for the audience. The film loses pace and meanders towards a boring and by now, expected ending.
There has been much hype about the film being a super thriller. But no whodunit stands a chance once the audience knows the culprit. Visakha Express too suffers from the same technical snag. It is rather disappointing to watch Mullapudi Vara's version of Strangers on a Train. Looks like he has tried to cash in on the success of thrillers recently. The music too does not help the film. Chandrasekhar Yeleti's screenplay too fails to salvage it.
As for the main cast, it is three cheers to both Allari Naresh, who plays the part of the psychotic husband and Rajeev Kanakala, who plays the 'doctor-in-trouble'. They are both really good and play their parts well. Naresh has done similar roles earlier, but he is still as good as ever. Rajeev Kanakala too takes himself one level up with his performance. Both Preeti Jhingiani and Sindu Tolani have bit roles and mostly take care of the glamour quotient.
All in all, Visakha Express is a let down. But it merits one look, just for the lead pair, in case you are addicted to thrillers.
Cast: Allari Naresh, Rajeev Kanakala, Preeti Jhigiani, Sindu Tolani among others
Producer: Tulasi Gopal
Music: Vijay Kurakula
Screenplay: Chandrasekhar Yeleti
Director: Mullapudi Vara