Earnest drama marred by lack of originality- The New Indian Express

By | June 5, 2021

Express News Service

The problem with Srinivas Naidu Nadikatla’s Sashi is that it yearns to navigate the story through new territories but the journey is mostly wearisome, owing to the cliche-ridden path it takes. Take the opening scene, for instance, where we are introduced to Raj Kumar (Aadi Saikumar) as he carries a beloved one to a hospital and the screenplay shifts to the past.

It’s a storytelling trope we have seen in numerous films, ranging from Arya 2 to Mahanubhavudu, and this is where the issues start to appear. In this flashback, we are once again introduced to the protagonist. He drinks while taking a shower, shares a strained relationship with his family, blithely sings about how precious life is, and then sorrowfully gazes at the Visakhapatnam skyline in the evening with a glass in his hand.

Raj Kumar’s recognisable facial hair screams ‘tragic past’. A flashback within the flashback? Yes, but we don’t get to the roots of his depressed personality that easily. We have to earn it, it seems. Perhaps this curiosity coupled with a little depth in the disturbed family dynamics keeps the film engaging during the first half.

In fact, the story takes the risk of making the protagonist unlikeable and there is a tiny pay-off at the end. The most stirring moment in this otherwise emotionally hollow film is when Raj’s mother explains the plight of their financial status to her intoxicated son, who can barely pay attention.

Such moments, like those involving Raj’s brother (Ajay), beautifully capture Raj’s recklessness and its repercussions on the people around him, but they are sporadic in nature. 

The downside is we have seen it all. When the ‘hero’ drops his sister in the college, we know he will bash a group of ragging students. When the hero visits the temple, we know he is about to see the heroine Sashi (Surbhi) for the first time.

From Kushi to the very recent Naandhi, love-at-first-sight in temples is an idea beaten to death, and we are expected to get along with such cliches throughout this film. The climax, where Sashi’s father (Rajeev Kanakala) realises that Raj is destined to be his daughter’s soulmate is reminiscent of Nuvvu Naaku Nachav, and the railway station setting only adds to this. When the film cuts to the flashback-within-flashback in the second half, we can foretell what’s bound to happen from a mile. The dialogues leave no room for subtlety either.

It’s not just the lack of novelty that’s the problem. Mani Kumar Chinimilli’s screenplay introduces several threads, like Raj’s friend Sunitha (Raashi Singh), who has feelings for him with Raj’s brother not in a financial position to marry his lover.

However, none of them find closure. The screenplay bites more than it can chew and wastes a good deal of time on an unnecessary, unfunny comedy track involving Vennela Kishore — which is borderline offensive with Urdu-Telugu being the butt of the joke.

Calling Sashi a drab wouldn’t be fair either. There is an earnest story with a lot of heart buried somewhere under all the cliches. Arun Chiluveru’s music pumps oxygen into soulless moments and alleviates the emotional void to an extent but there is only so much music can do.

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