'Abhimanyudu', starring Vishal in the lead, hit the screens this Friday. Here is our review of the intelligent thriller.
Major Karuna (Vishal), an army man who has an unpleasant past, dreams of leaving the country and settling abroad for the comforts life in the West offers. He has anger issues and is assigned to a psychiatrist Latha Devi (Samantha Akkineni), who as a therapy for his psychological problems asks him to go to his village and reconcile with his dad (Delhi Ganesh) and younger sister.
The younger sister is in love with a rich man, whose parents demand ten lakhs worth of jewelry. The hero and his father now try to procure a loan, only to be turned down by all the banks. A loan agent offers to help them in getting a loan for a cut. Karuna secures the loan but the money disappears from his account in no time and they cannot go to the police as the documents are forged. Vishal sets out to find the cyber criminal behind the disappearance. It's White Devil (Arjun), who turns out to be a sophisticated fraudster running a hacking mafia of epic proportions.
How Karuna, who is nothing in comparison to White Devil, clamps down on the antagonist's network forms the crux of the second half.
The forte of this film lies in the research done with respect to cyber crimes. Mithran is not telling any done-to-death story of hackers, whose modus operandi is almost always sketchy in our films. He is keen on telling a spine-chilling story, a story in which the mega hacker (played by Arjun) wants to wage a war against you and I. This very idea makes 'Abhimanyudu' an immensely exciting premise.
Before Karuna is looted by the villain, the director patiently builds his story, bonding with his sister and his equations with his father. When he is suddenly thrown into an abyss, we feel his pain. There is no other go.
And the villain himself is not a straightforward guy. He is on the other side of the 'iron curtain', ready to checkmate any and everybody at a mere click. Even a Union Minister is nothing. After a point, even the smart Karuna is convinced that White Devil deserves to be called 'Guru'.
The detailing that has gone into exposing the data thefts is commendable and the issue of how Aadhar makes our privacy and security vulnerable in the absence of data protection laws is used cinematically towards the climax.
On the downside, the writer-director should have avoided a leap of faith here, a cinematic liberty there. Is it so easy for an army man and a psychiatrist to shadow a Union Minister? How come Karuna doubts that White Devil is after Aadhar data?
The tall and well built Vishal has no problems convincing the viewer of his army background and needless to say that he excels in the fight scenes, especially the climax encounter with Arjun. He scores in the emotional department too when he bursts out to his father Delhi Ganesh accusing him of spoiling his life. Action King Arjun as the sauve and tech-savvy villain approaches his role with subtlety and his minute expressions add color to the character. His punch line that he is the scorpion and all his victims are thieves is memorable. Yuvan Shankar Raja does his bit by composing a killer theme for him. Samantha is an eyeful as the psychiatrist Latha Devi and she too gets her mass moment when she leads the villains into a trap set by the hero. Robo Shankar's comedy is largely forgettable.
The background music by Yuvan Shankar Raja is perfectly in sync with the digital theme though the songs have a familiar ring to them. Cinematography, editing and the art direction are good enough.
For all its cinematic liberties, 'Abhimanyudu' makes for a thrilling watch, thanks to its gripping screenplay. Neat performances, bonafide narration are among its merits.