By now, the not-so-secret ingredients of Prashanth Neel’s products are known—a suffering mother, visuals dominated by black and grey shades, some locations of gold or coal mine thrown in, lots of menacing and bulky baddies with beard and unkempt hair, state-of-the-art weapons and of course, lots of blood that can put slaughterhouses to shame.
In a nutshell, Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire looks like a jarring extension of KGF, or rather reeling under its hangover. Prabhas of Baahubali fame and Prashant Neel coming together under KGF and Kanthara’s production house, Hombale, got the movie buffs excited who were awaiting an explosive entertainer. The first part of the movie opened to packed audiences across the country and beyond. Right from the word go, it is the logic that suffers a bloody nose in the violent scheme-of-things.
Prashanth created a ghoulish world where there is literally a king and a set of governors administering different territories. All this in a modern setup where characters drive around in fanciest cars and handling fanciest weaponry. With no police or democracy in sight in the lawless lands, we also get to see the mercenary armies from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Siberia and other countries in action. Of course, it is unfair to expect filmmakers to be realistic but Prashanth’s creative freedom seems to have fallen short of being convincing or fascinating for the audience.
The movie introduces two young friends—Vardha and Deva—in the fictional region of Khansaara. Deva, a commoner, fights off a bully for Vardha who is the son of the ruler. Later, Vardha protects Deva’s family from his father’s henchmen by bribing them with a share in their territories by going against his father. The strong bond of friendship breaks after Deva is forcibly migrated from Khansar along with his mother due to the unfavourable situations. The two friends part ways with the promise that they will unite whenever there is a serious crisis.
Two and half decades later, Aadhya (Shruti Haasan) travels to India from the US to immerse her deceased mother’s ashes. A set of people attempt to kidnap her whereas her father, who is unaware of his daughter’s plans, tries to shield her by approaching Deva (Prabhas) who now lives with his mother in Assam. In the process of protecting Aadhya, Deva takes on the people who are connected to Khansar and Vardha’s (Prithviraj) family. The second half of the movie dwells into the violence-laden flashback in which Vardha and Deva reunite to neutralise his opposing factions within his territories who want to lay siege the throne of Khansar, and later part ways.
The first part of the movie ends keeping alive the suspense on how the two friends have turned into foes and are on the path of collision. The sequel is expected to answer the question along with giving clarity on the relations and tensions between a web of characters and events.
As two friends who can sacrifice lives for each other, Prabhas and Prithviraj hardly looked their parts when sharing screen space. There is not much to talk about in terms of acting as the hero of the film is violence which comes in different forms. Prashanth tried to present different characterisations and mannerisms which leave a print but it feels like there is a loud and desperate attempt to introduce conflict at every juncture. What clearly differentiates KGF franchise from Salaar are the ‘high’ moments of heroism which are clearly missing in this flick.
The music integrates with the plot but does not register much. The movie is strictly for those who appreciate blood and gore and do not believe in going beyond these elements.
Director: Prashanth Neel
Cast: Prabhas, Prithviraj, Shruthi Haasan, Jagapathi Babu, Sriya Reddy