Paisa Vasool movie review: Balakrishna’s explosive energy is trapped in this mundane film

Hemanth Kumar

Sep 01, 2017 15:53:52 IST


Before we talk about what Balakrishna’s latest film Paisa Vasool is all about, it’s important to put few things into perspective. Directed by Puri Jagannadh, Paisa Vasool isn’t a film, it’s packaged as a love letter to its lead actor — Balakrishna — and his fans. Balakrishna is a name, but ‘Balayya’ is an emotion. His fans know it. Even Puri Jagannadh knows it quite well and this time, he has tapped into the phenomenon of ‘Jai Balayya…Jai Jai Balayya’, a jingle has a Mexican wave-like rhythm. For heaven’s sake, there’s even a song, whose lyrics go like — “Coca Cola Pepsi, Balayya Babu Sexy…Jai Balayya, Jai Jai Balayya”. The film doesn’t even have a ‘The End’ card. It just says ‘Jai Balayya’. You get the drift, right? This isn’t a film which cares so much about its story and what it tries to drives home, as much as it focuses on its lead actor and giving a new twist to his onscreen image.

 Paisa Vasool movie review: Balakrishna’s explosive energy is trapped in this mundane film

Still from Paisa Vasool. Image via YouTube

For the longest time, I have suspected that before writing a script, Puri Jagannadh plays a game of darts. He has the map of Europe, particularly South-Western Europe, on one side and that of South East Asia on another. Wherever the dart lands, that becomes the backdrop for whatever story he’s going to write. This time, for Paisa Vasool, we land in Portugal, where Theda Singh (Balakrishna) works as a cab driver. Sure, because that’s an easy thing to buy. One day, he bumps into a BBC journalist, played by Shriya Saran, and before we known it, he says she’ ‘black’ just like him, because all non-whites in Europe are referred to as blacks. And then, there’s a Telugu-speaking mafia kingpin who controls the whole world from Portugal. For all you know, he might have been a tourist from India who decided to stay back just for kicks.

Paisa Vasool, especially when everything gets into a serious mode, feels even more superficial because the characters rarely gel well with the setting. They just happen to be there and make no effort to make it look like they have lived there for a while. This isn’t restricted to Paisa Vasool alone. Every film which is set abroad, from Puri’s recent filmography, like ISM, Heart Attack and Iddarammayilatho, falls in the same category. We are, in turn, forced to stretch our imagination to soak it all in and wait for those moments where you get something to cheer for. And that’s where Puri Jagannadh unveils his secret weapon — Balakrishna as Theda Singh.

We know that we are watching a different film when Puri Jagannadh writes quirkier punchlines for the lead actor. This time, Balakrishna, who is in top form, gives us at least a dozen punch dialogues. Right from whatever you’ve seen in the teasers to gems like “Only two people are allowed to shoot me — My fans and my family. Outers Not Allowed.” We aren’t supposed to look for logic or meaning here, it’s all about emotion which comes in the form of Balakrishna. He has clearly had a blast shooting for the film and it shows. Be it his dialogues or action sequences, the actor keeps his fans entertained, and full credit to him for his ability to turn even a cheesy scene into something that’s uproariously funny. Take that scene where he’s asked, “Do you know Bob Marley?”. He replies, “I only know Mansion House.” Or that stress he puts on ‘Wiki’ when he says, “That’s my visible record on Wikipedia.” Quite frankly, Paisa Vasool is watchable to an extent only to witness a never-before-seen Balayya, especially in the first half.

In a typical Puri Jagannadh’s film environment, we are introduced to a bunch of mafia dons, sidekicks, corrupt politicians, a market yard, bomb blasts, sincere policemen, rats in the system — it takes a genius to play around with these tropes over and over again, and write something afresh. But let’s not get too deep into all these things, because everyone in the film exists to extol the awesomeness of Balayya. Even the dreaded mafia dons are scared of his ferocity. And the women swoon over him even if they meet him for two minutes.

In terms of the plot and the twist in the tale, Puri doesn’t really bother to do something entirely different this time. For all you know, his major focus might have been to justify Theda Singh’s idiosyncrasies. So, he doles out one scene after another, which establish the character’s ingenious ways. The problem comes in the second half of the story which beats around the bush for far too long, and it gets weaker and boring, as it progresses. That’s where you realise the emphasis Puri Jagannadh puts on the lead character rather than the story or other characters in the film.

After witnessing the adventures of Theda Singh through Puri’s eyes, it’s immaterial what one thinks of Theda Singh or his motives. We only remember the character and Balakrishna who played it with fervour. Nothing else matters here. Paisa Vasool is a product of Puri Jagannadh’s assembly line of films. The seal of Balakrishna might look different on the periphery, but once you dig deeper, it’s all same thing rehashed with new packaging. Two thumbs down for the film. Balakrishna’s explosive energy doesn’t quite salvage the film in the end.

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Updated Date: Sep 01, 2017 15:58:27 IST