'SPYder', starring Mahesh Babu, SJ Suryah and Rakul Preet Singh, hits the screens Today. Here is our review of the entertainer.
Shiva (Mahesh Babu) works at the Intelligence Bureau, intercepting the calls of the commoners to detect any distress situation. Once he spots a potential danger, he swings into action, single-handedly helping the potential victim out of danger. One fateful night, he fails to save the lives of a teenage girl and a cop, who are brutally butchered by a psychopathic killer.
Shiva mounts a YouTube plan to nab the killer, only to find out that one Bhairavudu (SJ Suryah) has been behind the murders and behind many more tragedies over the years.
What is the motive of Bhairavudu? Why did he turn into a tragedy-loving anti-human? What is the next catastrophe that he is planning? What does Shiva do to nab him and stop the calamity from happening? What difficulties does the intelligence officer encounter in preventing the man-made disaster? All these aspects form the rest of the story.
In a 'Hero as the Saviour' film, certain type of creative liberties can be more than uncool. 'SPYder' is a stark example of this. In what may be called an insufferable 'Thupaki' hangover, AR Murugadoss' hero is left to take the help of housewives in nabbing the villain in a supposedly crucial episode in the second half. The housewives metamorphose into gutsy Rayalaseema 'bidda', Telangana 'bidda' and Kostha 'koothuru', pulling off a feat at the end of which you have this feeling that someone just executed a staged reality show episode for no plausible reason.
This comes after the world was rudely awakened to the frightening danger posed by a sociopath, who had been burying innocents in the pillars of the Metro project. It's inexplicable, then, as to why Shiva has to perform the operation discussed in the above para all by himself, that too against the odds posed by a law-enforcement agency. 'Thupaki' hangover, nothing less, nothing more.
After a superb flashback episode which traces the evolution of Bhairavudu's mental state (complete with the cries of the relatives of the dead), the tempo goes missing in the second half. Does Shiva have to be that playful with his girlfriend (Rakul Preet as Charlie) while recuperating in the hospital? Better still, does Murugadoss have to be that serious in telling the story even in the 'Pucchakaya' song, which is partly a montage number?
The way Shiva investigates the case on his own terms smacks of a glaring loose end or two. One feels that he is lax in finding out the catastrophe that Bhairavudu has been planning. Believe it or not, Shiva and a few cops actually happen to joke even as the dreadful villain is waiting inside in the interrogation room, waiting to deliver a bombshell. What is more, Murugadoss chooses this scene, of all the scenes, to let the heroine put up a mock shock expression on her face when she comes to know that Shiva had been tapping her phone. This is how one idea after another bland idea goes into robbing the second half of its gravitas.
Two ideas go into raising the bar in the first half: The hair-raising flashback, and the wailing of hundreds of people at the Metro project's pillars. The very ideas are haunting and evoke pathos. The drama heralded by these elements loses its steam when we realize that none but the hero is really involved in solving the problem. Just to make sure that even she doesn't get any credits, our heroine switches off her mobile just in time, so that our hero can stage an incredibly unnecessary intelligence op-cum-chasing scene to find out the name of the hospital where the next tragedy is going to happen. Whoa!
Maybe, had he not become too big, Murugadoss might have already done an 'Onamalu'. The way the climax pans out makes this reviewer think so. After wrapping up a quick fight with the villain, Shiva urgently rushes out to deliver into a mike a monologue on the sadism and humanism in us: 'Manaku theliyanivallaku asinchakunda chese sahayame manavathvam', he says and signs off. Whoa!
To put the two halves in short, the first half is promising and delivers the goods. The rom-com track is made all the more interesting by a bespectacled Charlie's desire for a blind date. Watch Rakul tell the hero's mother that she likes Shiva. She and her lines are brilliantly natural in this scene.
Mahesh Babu is at his subtle best in emotional scenes. He emotes agony without speaking in a choking voice. To this extent, the director delivers a new Mahesh. While the songs could have been better visualized, the hero's body language is authentic. Perhaps, all the focus was on him, which explains why Priyadarshi and RJ Balaji come half-done. SJ Suryah's menacing act will have its takers. One feels he had a couple of more scenes. He was envisaged as an invisible villain. He is seen through others' lines and that's is not that effective. The lack of familiar Telugu faces defies logic. If they have made a bi-lingual, why didn't they opt for a Posani to play one of those two CBI officers?
Harris Jayaraj's BGM is inventive, especially when he has to score rustic music when the backdrop is a sophisticated IB building. Such experimentation is impressive at many places. Santosh Sivan's cinematography is impeccable. The lead pair look all the more beautiful, and the villain, all the more fearsome in the crowd, thanks to his angles. The CG work passes muster in a pre-climax and the climax episodes.
The spy thriller takes unconvincing liberties in the second half. A tragedy of epic proportions is sought to be reduced into a hero vs villain rivalry without a compelling narrative. Mahesh's studied acting prowess is remarkable. He drives the film, ably assisted by the technical departments.