Rating: 3/10 (Loses the Battle)
Cast: Prabhas, Shraddha Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Murali Sharma, Jackie Shroff, Tinnu Anand, Chunky Pandey, Arun Vijay, Mahesh Manjrekar, Mandira Bedi, Evelyn Sharma, Vennela Kishore, Jacqueline Fernandez, Supreeth, Tanikella Bharani
Music: Guru Randhawa, Tanishk Bagchi, Baadshah, and Shankar-Eshaan-Loy
Producers: Vamsi- Pramod
Banner: UV Creations
The most awaited movie of the year is finally here. After a long gap of 2.5 years and the sensational success of the Baahubali series, Rebel Star Prabhas has achieved what most heroes dream to do their in lifetime which is to become a Pan-India superstar. Reportedly made with a budget fo 350 crores and billed as India's biggest action thriller, Saaho is directed by Run Raja Run fame Sujeeth. Does the film live up to the sky high expectations? Let's find out in this week's review.
Plot: In the fictional city of Waaji known as the city of powerful gangsters, Prithviraj (Tinnu Anand) has created an empire for a bunch of gangsters. The main power struggle goes on between Roy (Jackie Shroff) and Devraj (Chunky Pandey). Roy has hidden his wealth in a vault that can only be opened with a black box that contains the key to access it. Inside lies 2000 crores worth of gold.
20 years later, a thief ends up stealing the black box and undercover officer Ashok Chakravarthy (Prabhas) is assigned with the task of retrieving it. He teams up with Amritha Nair (Shraddha Kapoor) to solve the case.
What happens to the Black Box? Who actually stole it? What is the connection between the present and Roy's empire in the past? Watch Saaho to find out the answers.
Performances: After a gap of 2 years, Prabhas finally returns to the silver screen and his performance is adequate at best. One cannot deny his ever reliable screen presence but the performance lacks energy or finesse of any kind. His dialogue delivery is also bizarre and very slurred and slow for some reason. It's safe to call this one of the worst performances and characterizations of his entire career. His weight also fluctuates from the interval onwards and doesn't look the best. His hairstyle also looks odd. Overall, the Rebel Star looks tired and lethargic and it seems that even he got lost in the grand scheme of things. However, he does well in the action scenes.
Shraddha Kapoor as Amrita Nair is alright. She doesn't do much except appear in the songs and the role definitely isn't the best. Performance wise there really isn't much to take home either. She gets decent screen time.
The movie has a huge ensemble cast yet almost everybody is not utilized properly. Arun Vijay as Vishwak is probably the best character in the movie and he gets some solid moments throughout the narrative. So does Chunky Pandey. The veteran actor does well as the main villain with his stone cold killer act. Neil Nitin Mukesh is also adequate.
The rest of the cast in Mahesh Manjrekar, Lal, Mandira Bedi, Jackie Shroff, Tanikella Bharani, Supreet, Vennela Kishore, Evelyn Sharma, Tinnu Anand and even the ever reliable Murali Sharma are all wasted in inconsequential roles and make no impact at all.
Direction: Oh man where to start. First things first. Sujeeth, you can pat yourself on the back for wanting to be ambitious and pushing the envelope of Telugu Cinema and taking it forward. Saaho is unlike anything we have ever experienced in a Telugu movie and the scale and grandeur should be commended. Unfortunately that's all the good that comes out of it. It's clear Sujeeth has a very good eye for his technical aspects in his movies. What he doesn't have is proper story telling ability. Saaho at the end of the day is a disappointment and most of the blame goes towards Sujeeth. It was always going to be a tough task to follow up Baahubali and be successful and he crumbled under the pressure. The biggest problem with the movie is the execution. The ambition is there but the execution is amateurish. The script is another huge problem. On paper, Saaho sounds great. But in reality the way that it plays out doesn't make any sense. The film is another adaption or ripoff of French film Largo Which in which a dreaded tycoon hides his son identity to the world and the son takes revenge on all the villains in the end. Right from the first scene you start to get confused with Tanikella Bharani. Then Jackie Shroff meets his end soon after and then Prabhas is introduced in an awkward fight sequence in a Mumbai slum. The movie lacks any entertaining moments barring the interval twist and maybe the last two action sequences and as a whole, the movie is full of illogical sequences which will be discussed later. The movie lacks any memorable scenes and all the characters end up looking like caracitrues and the name get even more confusing in the end because you don't know what's going in. Action movies are successful because they have minimal story and breathtaking action set pieces. In Saaho the story is so complicated and so convoluted that one gets lost in the narrative from the very beginning itself. The romantic track only adds to our wounds and its cringeworthy and patience testing at best. Saaho has its moments, but unfortunately it never shines bright like Sujeeth promised us it would. He could have easily made the movie in a tighter budget because the 350 crores never really show up on screen. He also failed to utilize Prabhas screen presence and charisma to the full extent which makes it an added loss for the Rebel Star's fans. Bottomline what you need for a successful movie is emotions and a good STORY. Unfortunately, Saaho has neither and ends up being a huge disappointment for everyone involved.
Technicalities: Background Score by Ghibran is phenomenal. He's one of the few bright spots in the entire movie and elevates some scenes with his scintillating background music. The songs of the movie are composed by 4 different composers. All of the songs are useless and only disrupt the flow of the narrative. They are also all terribly placed. However, the locations in Ye Chota Nuvvuna and the pink lake in Baby Won't You Tell Me are outstanding. Cinematography by Madhie is world class. Each and every frame looks amazing and the ace cameraman's work in Saaho is probably his best to date. Whatever the scene was or the context, the lighting and palettes used reflect the grand scale and situations presented throughout the movie. The VFX however takes away a little of grandeur of the visuals. Production Design by Sabu Cyril is world class as well. The sets and design for the entire production is tremendous in scale and visually stunning throughout. Another one of the bright spots in the film. Editing by Sreekar Prasad is not good. The film is too long for it's good and should have been minimum 2hrs and 15 mins or maximum 2.5 hours. Instead Saaho drags on for almost 3 hours and becomes exhausting in the end. Action Sequences by Kenny Bates, Stunt Silva, and a horde of other action directors are excellent. They are unlike anything we have ever seen in telugu movies. The much hyped Dubai chase sequence is alright but fizzles out in the end due to no logic. Visual Effects by RC Kamalakannan are decent. They are not on standard with Hollywood blockbusters at all and a bit amateurish. Choreography and Hairstyling are horrendous throughout the movie. Styling is decent. Lastly, Production Values by UV Creations are exorbitant and grand. But nowhere do you actually see a movie that's worth 350 crores. It seems to be a marketing gimmick by the makers as the graphics are sub standard and makes the audience question where the money was being spent.
+ Production Design
+ Background Score
+ Interval Sequence
- No Emotions
Analysis and Final Verdict: Back in 2017 along with prints of Baahubali 2, a concept teaser for Saaho was released. It featured a futuristic city and Prabhas in a room beating the crap out of goons and a concept of a jetman action sequence. Over the course of time, the film was in the news for various things such as the budget which went from 250 to 300 finally to 350 crores and then the making videos released and further garnered hype and anticipation for the movie.
After the record breaking success of Baahubali 2, SS Rajamouli established Prabhas as Pan-India star and naturally Saaho garnered immense hype and expectations from the audience. The anticipation grew so much and the day finally arrived. After scintillating teasers and trailers and grand songs, the film is just a huge disappointment. Simply put, Saaho wasn't worth the wait.
Generally, action movies don't try to overcomplicate the story by having a basic plot line and filling the narrative with a maybe a few twists and turns and having outstanding action set pieces as it's USP. Saaho tries to do the same and fails miserably. In his interviews promoting Saaho, Prabhas repeatedly kept saying it's a screenplay based film. Screenplay, screenplay, screenplay, and screenplay. While watching the film, the audience raises the question of what script is he talking about.
The film's biggest letdown is it's script. The goal was to make a pan India action thriller that would appeal to everyone and stun the audience and world. Instead Saaho is so complicated from the first scene and filled with illogical scenes and sequences that in the end you're just left clueless throughout the narrative as whole.
One really wonders how UV Creations were convinced with Sujeeth's pitch to make this film because the basic storyline of a son returning to his father's empire and eliminating the threats has already been done in Pawan Kalyan's Agnythaavasi. While Saaho is better than that film quality wise, story wise it's pretty much the same and in a rare instance, it fails both times in the same language. It's clear nobody in the production knew what they were doing except Madhie and Sabu Cyril.
The film is filled with so many bizzare sequences I don't even know where to begin.
1) In the opening sequence, Tanikella Bharani's hand is lit on fire and he places it into a glass of ice and is forced to sign a paper. What the paper is for we are never told.
2) Prabhas is introduced and he literally fights through about 5 stories of a Mumbai slum to rescue some guy who looks like he's in a poor man's version of Hangman. And there he meets a python and panther in a room for no reason, and manages to escape from the panther by bending the jail lock on the window and climbs to the next area. There's also an ostrich that just cooly walks around in the slum as well and nobody questions it.
3) Next he is given a case to handle with Shraddha Kapoor. The flirting and entire investigation makes your cringe and is a complete waste of time. The interval sequences present a huge twist which is probably the best part of the movie.
4) Post the interval, Prabhas jumps off a cliff shirtless to catch a bag. We are never told why. It just happens. And he grabs the bag and it just happens to be a parachute and he magically lands at the bottom which happens to be a beach. We see his six pack and then Bad Boy song follows.
5) They also take a break from the investigation one day and go to the club at night and dance which is where Psycho Saiyaan song happens
6) There at least 1000 bullets fired in the movie including half of them during the much hyped Dubai chase sequence on a bike and not a single one hits Prabhas.
7) Prabhas hops on a jetpack and Sraddha falls from a helicopter on midair. They ack stops working so Prabhas lets go, magically catches Shraddha some 3000 feet in the sky, and they magically fall into a body of water nearby. The water is very conveniently placed.
8) Lastly, there is a 1 min sequence about the Karna village that is just there and you see some weed in the process that an officer is about to smoke.
9) There is a fight scene where Shraddha tries to arrest Prabhas and a fight scene happens with Mr and Mrs Smith playing on a TV in the background. The background score during this scene is akin to what the violin medleys they play at grand gala events with every dressed up in suits and ties. It just seems so out of place and ridiculous. And the people who are trying to kill Prabhas are the very same people who cut a deal with him to find the black box in the next scene. So why try to eliminate him to begin with?
10) Shraddha goes to Austria to be uncover and work with Prabhas and pledges her loyalty to the police. And then a useless song happens which in which she reverses her loyalties again and actually falls in love with Prabhas and they move into a house together there by the beach, A house that is almost identical to Tony Stark's house in Malibu.
If you liked the above scenes, then by all means please watch Saaho. To add to our wose, Sujeeth tries to link everything back together in the last 10 mins but by the amount of twists already make our brain hurt and becomes too much the process.
Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives in this movie and that it's biggest weakness. A simple story that's unnecessarily complicated and tepid performances by the entire cast and a lengthy runtime makes Saaho an exhausting and painful watch in the end.
Overall, Saaho loses the battle and ends up being a massive disappointment, Sujeeth and team try really hard but in the end nothing really clicks. The execution doesn't match the ambition and despite the team's best efforts, it's hard to salvage anything in a movie that promised so much. Despite outstanding visuals, Saaho fails to meet the expectations to keep you engaged throughout it's entirety. Not even Prabhas' ever reliable screen presence can save the film as the star looks tired and disinterested throughout.
Saaho roughly translates to Jai Ho meaning Victory. In the end, it's a loss for everybody involved including the audience.