'Keshava', the revenge-thriller starring Nikhil as the protagonist, hits the screens today. Here is our take:
Keshava Sharma (Nikhil Siddharth) was orphaned even as a child. Tending to a totally paralyzed sister, he is a law student by the day and a murderer by the night.
Policeman after policeman gets brutally killed in a curious turn of events, which has the Department lose their mind. Sharmila (Isha Koppikar) is enlisted to lead a special investigation team to probe the bizarre murders.
The sharp cop Sharmila makes good progress in cracking the case, but there is a catch. Keshava is one step ahead of her and doesn't leave any clue whatsoever. A battle of wits ensues, the suspect gets help from an unexpected quarter, and his girl and friends (Ritu Varma, Priyadarshi) rise up to the occasion.
Why is this glum-looking youngster with an agonized past after certain policemen? Can Sharmila save those on Keshava's hit list? Will the law student take the law for a ride? Answers to these questions are found in the later half.
With 'Swamy Ra Ra', Sudheer Varma joined the league of new-age directors well-versed with the craft of filmmaking.
With 'Keshava', he attains moderate success in sustaining this image. First things first. Succinct narration, a twist in the climax, neat performances, and above all, excellent cinematography and BGM make an impression.
In a film culture which takes pride in dishing out item songs and parodies at the drop of a hat, it takes conviction to show the male lead as constantly serious-looking with barely a reason to smile.
Secondly, scoring big on college campus fun in a revenge-drama is no joke. Vennela Kishore, wearing the attitude of Brahmanandam's Khan Dada, draws laughs aplenty as a joker of a bully. An over-aged law student, VK once again proves that he is the king of urban comedy. Priyadarshi's light-veined humour and Sathya's brief cameo help the matters.
The casting is another major highlight. After watching one too many middle-aged actresses in one affected cop's role after another, it's refreshing to see Isha Koppikar in the role of a tough cop. While her character could have been written much better (more on this later), she shines nevertheless.
Divakar Mani's frames are superb. Otherwise mundane locations look top-notch without being artificial. Prashanth Pillai's background music is snazzy and elevating. SR Shekar's editing is another big plus.
Nikhil, who doesn't talk much, emotes with his sullen expression. Ritu Varma and Rao Ramesh in an extended cameo are convincing, the latter more than the former. Ajay, Brahmaji and others fit the bill.
While "revenge is best served cold", the story line of 'Keshava' is hardly hot. For all the narrative technique of revealing the protagonist's past in installments of flashbacks, the suspense fizzles out right from the second installment.
In how many films will they show everybody else but that special officer as utterly incompetent, so much so, they don't even have the sense to check the career history of the murdered cops? It's not like they are lazy. There is high-level pressure to crack the case at the earliest.
And isn't it eerie that this ever-so-alert special officer Sharmila seems to be absent-minded with respect to Keshava's presence during a check-up of a bus where his mere presence should be reason enough to take him into custody?
While the makers sold the hero's biological condition of Dextrocardia as a USP, the element becomes inconsequential even before you have forgotten about it (within the first 15 minutes). Not quite unpardonable, especially because that's not integral to the story. But how did Keshava attain the strength of mind over the years, overcoming such a condition amid tragedies in his life? How come he doesn't come across as vulnerable even for a moment even though a tough taskmaster is out to get him? How come not a sentence he speaks either to himself or to the special girl in his life comes with a profound reference to this permanent condition of his?
'Keshava' is a mixed package. Stylish content and a gripping climax. Cliches yes, but it does succeed in scoring high with respect to all the technical departments.