Saaho: All Hype and Hoopla

Indian film stars and their fascination for high-octane action thrillers is a never-ending tale. Especially when the canvas is of epic proportions. Saaho is the latest addition to the list, as actor Prabhas, fresh off the success of the Bahubali series, seeks to extend his stardom to a pan-India level. Very few genres create the level of money-spinning opportunity that a big budgeted action film provides and hence, this film was touted to be Prabhas’ vehicle to the top tier of stardom across the country.

Grapevine has it that director Sujeeth had initially planned for an action film in the budget range of approximately Rs 60 crores. However, with Bahubali-2 taking longer than expected, Prabhas and team decided to push the envelope with Saaho, subsequently converting it into a grand scale project that’s reported to have cost a whopping Rs 350 crores.

So, does the film live up to its immense hype?

It would be difficult to give any sort of detailed synopsis for Saaho without a spoiler. So, I won’t go into the finer details of the storyline, but the major plot deals with a ruthless mafia that’s in disarray following the accidental death of its kingpin Roy (Jackie Shroff). The vacant throne has plenty of contenders but it’s something else that’s on their minds. A black box, which is apparently the key to being a billionaire, is securely kept.

The film starts off with three robberies and Mumbai police seek the help of an undercover cop (Prabhas) who assists a team of crime branch officials led by their chief (Prakash Belavadi), Amritha Nair (Shraddha Kapoor) and David (Murali Sharma). Their investigations lead them to the prime suspect but what the cops don’t know is that the game is bigger than these robberies. With unimaginable levels of money and power involved, the battle is against an extensive set of power-hungry gangsters who leave no stone unturned to achieve their goals. How the protagonists deal with their foes forms the crux of Saaho.

It’s never a bad idea to spend lavishly on an action film but the problem here is Sujeeth’s inexperience proves to be a handicap in the execution of the film. Just one film old prior to Saaho, Sujeeth’s previous work Run Raja Run was a smartly made commercial entertainer that had largely enjoyable moments with enough thrills to keep the audience glued. But that neither had a major star and nor was it a high-budget flick. Doing a star flick, that too on such a large scale is no mean task and Sujeeth’s execution goes awry. The screenplay is the biggest drawback, as it’s muddled and unnecessarily complicated. The pacing is also slow, which doesn’t work for an action film and it’s only in the pre-interval portions that there is some energy in the sequences.

Prabhas as always has a solid screen presence and effortlessly walks through his role that demands him to be stylish and full of attitude in the action set pieces. However, his styling in the film is inconsistent—which is shocking for such a big film. Nevertheless, he aces the action blocks which are unfortunately too vague in terms of execution and are also long drawn, which leaves a tiring impact on the viewers. The second half is mostly about fights, shootouts and chases, but the flow jerks and stutters. Shraddha Kapoor does a fine job and shares a good chemistry with Prabhas but the romance angle is poorly written.

There are also a battalion of antagonists, some of them don’t even have anything substantial to do. Character development is more like caricature work, and it further dampens the overall effect. If there is one thing about Saaho that went to plan, it’s the final 20 minutes which manage to create an impact but by then, it’s already a jaded affair. Sujeeth’s idea to construct a mystery-driven screenplay that ends with a roaring climax, had plenty of promise but his lack of experience in handling such projects ends up biting the film.

The music is good with all the songs striking a chord but their placement is inappropriate, making them appear like speed-breakers. Another minus is with the much-talked about action blocks that are half-baked due to inefficient VFX. Quite clearly, Saaho is an overambitious project that suffers due to poor execution. The framework and one-line idea had the potential to make a fantastic action thriller but what` we get eventually, is a product that’s heavily flawed. Definitely, an opportunity gone missing.

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