Saakshyam movie review: Sai Sreenivas, Pooja Hegde starrer has grand ideas that get lost along the way
At a run time of 166 minutes, Saakshyam feels like a lost opportunity.
Throughout the length of Sriwass’ Saakshyam, we are constantly reminded that ‘nature is witness’ to everything that happens in our lives. After a while, I couldn’t help but observe all the elements in the surroundings, and a bunch of things stood out: A giant screen projecting violent and graphic imagery, a bunch of audio systems carefully placed to bombard you with sound that’s mostly thunder, rows of seats filled with people who seem quite distracted, murmurs that suggest that the bloodshed is too much to handle, and then, there’s this writer who’s struggling to stay focused.
Truth be told, Saakshyam has a lot of firepower and a big canvas to deliver epic action moments, but it’s also an ambitious film which lacks finesse. And that makes all the difference.
The film follows the life of Vishwa (Sai Sreenivas), a billionaire’s son who is a game designer. He is an adventurous youngster, who doesn’t quite understand what violent acts he’s capable of pulling off. One day, he bumps into Soundarya (Pooja Hegde), a spiritual speaker, and falls in love with her. A small misunderstanding between the them forces Vishwa to come to India; however, little does he realise that it’s nature which brought him back to his native place to accomplish a mission.
Before we talk about the film, it’s important to acknowledge that it’s one of the most violent films in recent times. There’s so much bloodshed in the first 15 minutes of the narrative that it’s obscene, and clearly, there was no reason for Sriwass to go so overboard to elicit an emotional response from the audience. If that wasn’t enough, Sriwass thrusts even more graphic images of young children forced into labour, people charred to death, references to mutilation and rape….not even animals, even if they are animated, aren’t spared. Maybe the idea was to highlight how evil the villains are, but it’s a major turnoff. And then, the story that follows almost puts you to sleep, before the timely reminders that the best is yet to come. For all you know, the film carries a watermark of ‘nature is witness’ throughout its screen-time.
If you think hard enough, this concept of nature bringing the hero and villain face to face has already been dealt with in films like Magadheera and Khaleja, although partially. In Saaskhyam, that’s the main plot and Sriwass makes a solid statement about how God plays a major role in deciding the fate of human beings. And he peppers the story with quite a few interesting set-ups. There’s a mind-boggling scene where a calf becomes an unlikely saviour in the life of the hero and much later, their reunion gives us the biggest whistle-worthy moment in the entire story.
In another action sequence, the wind blows so hard that a twister powers a wind turbine! But then, there’s a catch. For all such larger-than-life moments, Saakshyam doesn’t quite carry the emotional weight that the story demands. You desperately want the hero to figure out what he’s fighting for, but nature takes care of all that, leaving only the execution part to the hero. No wonder, you don’t root for the hero as much. Instead, your focus is solely on how fate brings different characters together and how gory each death is going to be.
The entire story is built like a video game plot, where the hero has to cross different levels to kill different villains. It’s not entirely a preposterous idea and sounds quite convincing in the context of this fantasy-drama. However, the problem lies in the execution, and it leaves you with the impression that Sriwass got so excited with the beta version of the story he had envisioned that he didn’t foresee the bugs that might crop up. Another huge problem with the film is that for all the big action sequences it has, the scenes leading up to them are poorly written. Even the romantic track between Vishwa and Soundarya doesn’t make an impact. And the less we talk about the songs and how they’re placed, the better it is. Moreover, it’s pointless to blame the VFX team why some of the visual effects look amateurish. Clearly, they weren’t given enough time to deliver a good output.
For an actor like Sai Sreenivas, Saakshyam is the kind of film that cements his position as an action hero and he looks the part in the stunt sequences; however, it’s the emotional sequences where he looks lost. Pooja Hegde, on the other hand, gets a raw deal because of an underwritten role and the character is sidelined after a point. Among others, Jagapathi Babu breezes through his role and it feels like he takes immense pleasure in being a badass onscreen.
The true hero of Saakshyam is action choreographer Peter Hein, who manages to captivate our attention for a reasonably good time. Harshavardhan Rameshwar’s background score too, although a tad too loud at times, works quite well. At a run time of 166 minutes, Saakshyam feels like a lost opportunity. The set up is grand and it has plenty of action, where muscular men scream their lungs out, and the death is violent. But then, the fabric is filled with plenty of holes and it doesn’t quite hold the weight of the grand ideas Saakshyam encompasses. They say, when it comes to films, God is in the details. Saakshyam retains God as a visual element and sacrifices the details. A big thumbs down.
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