Pantham movie review: Gopichand-starrer is a well-intentioned attempt that tries too hard to preach

Hemanth Kumar

July 05, 2018 16:14:15 IST

Gopichand’s 25th film Pantham is also, perhaps, the 25th knock-off of Shankar’s Gentleman which has pretty much set the template for a socially conscious cinema. It is the kind of cinema where a social issue becomes the crux of the storytelling and in the end, there is a call for social change. While Gentleman dealt with the concept of capitation fee and told a gripping drama about how a common man tackles this issue, in the past couple of decades, heroes became messiah of the poor and downtrodden for all sorts of reasons. In Pantham, the hero’s goal is to give credit where it is due, quite different from his predecessors. Here, he wants to address the corruption in politics and government offices when it comes to honouring the commitment to give ex gratia. But it falters at a fundamental level because it confuses its message with the story itself. 

Gopichand in a still from Pantham. Twitter

Gopichand in a still from Pantham. Twitter

In the film, Gopichand stars as Vikranth, a modern day Robinhood who steals money from corrupt politicians, and his primary target is Naik Bhai who also happens to be the state’s home minister. When Naik Bhai (Sampath) realises that his money has gone missing, he sets out on a mission to find out who is behind a series of robberies. The rest of the story is about why Vikranth decides to steal money from politicians and what he intends to do with it.

There is a punchline in the film just before an action sequence, where Gopichand says, “Roads have a speed limit, ATM has a money limit and exams have time limit. But there is no limit to my action.” True to his declaration, mayhem ensues where everyone is reduced to pulp by the hero. Perhaps, it is the only plausible outcome anyone can envision given Gopichand’s serious approach to delivering his lines or pulling a punch or landing a kick. It is difficult to truly understand what is brewing in his mind when he is on the screen because he will never do anything that does not suit his personality.

No wonder, it feels he is in control when it comes to fight sequences but he is often left clueless when it comes to a romantic scene. He is sincere when it comes to having to empathise with someone but that does not translate into an emotional meltdown at a later point of time. These boundaries that he has built for himself, for whatever reason that might be, become huge obstacles in the context of an emotionally charged film like Pantham and it does not help that writer-director Chakravarthy holds himself back from pushing Gopichand into a new territory. Instead, the best segments in the film are written for supporting characters, led by Rallapalli and a slew of other actors who appear in a well directed montage sequence in the second half. 

The bigger problem with the film is that it tries too hard to weave a story around a message instead of focusing on the storytelling itself. After almost 140 minutes, Chakravarthy finally underlines what he truly wants to convey through the message. Even though it is an important topic to be addressed and the film itself draws inspiration from quite a few real-life incidents, the story is devoid of any major twists and quite bland for most part. And the lack of chemistry between the lead actors, Gopichand and Mehreen, just kills all interest in the romantic subplot. Even the villain has a poorly written role and Sampath, who played the antagonist, has no option but to scream his lungs out throughout the film. 

At some level, Pantham feels like a mishmash of several popular films including Srimanthudu and Kick to name a few although it is nowhere near the emotional impact of its predecessors. Thankfully, the emphasis on ‘punch’ and ‘praasa’ is kept to a bare minimum although it makes up for this good deeds by presenting a lot of characters in a silly manner. Mehreen’s role goes nowhere and Pruthvi’s role too is left in the lurch after a promising start. 

Most films are defined by the experience they create. However, Pantham’s strength lies in what it truly wants to say in the end. It calls for a systematic change in the government’s approach to governance and making politicians accountable. And it also calls out people in general for a wide range of issues. But then it does all this after ensuring that it narrates a story which is sloppy and unimaginative before it turns into a show reel of our apathy towards suffering. Call it emotionally manipulative or a genuine effort to make us confront with the stark reality of people in dire circumstances, Pantham succeeds in driving home its message, even though it sacrifices everything else in the process. A big thumbs down. 

Updated Date: Jul 05, 2018 16:14 PM