Naga Chaitanya’s latest action thriller Yuddham Sharanam is a tale about an youngster who takes on a gangster against all odds. Sounds like a cliche? Not really. Yet, it doesn’t quite hold your attention till the end to justify the arduous journey undertaken by its characters.
Directed by Krishna, Yuddham Sharanam is the kind of film where the characters race against time, but the story doesn’t. There’s also an overwhelming sense of deja vu while watching the film; however, what really weighs down the film is that it reveals all its secrets way too soon.
The story revolves around Arjun, played by Naga Chaitanya, who’s in search of his parents. The have gone missing after their 30th wedding anniversary and Arjun can’t trace their whereabouts even after searching every nook and corner of the city. Meanwhile, a special team from NIA is trying to find the culprits behind a series of bomb blasts. The rest of the story is about how Arjun learns the truth about his parents and what happens to them in their last few days.
The non-linear screenplay of the film keeps us guessing about what could have possibly gone wrong with Arjun’s seemingly perfect life. We are told that he has quit his job to make drones and in one particularly well-choreographed action sequence, where he rescues a woman’s life, we understand that he’s adept at his job. His mother (Revathi) is a doctor, and his father (Rao Ramesh) is a pillar of strength in his life. And when Arjun falls in love with a medical intern (Lavanya Tripathi), you know that the family’s portrait will be picture perfect. Cut to present : Arjun is shattered when he learns the whereabouts of his parents. It’s a classic case of what happens when a normal guy is pushed to the brink by circumstances. He flips out.
The first half, especially when director Krishna focuses on the relationships in Arjun’s family, is heart-warming. Naga Chaitanya and Lavanya make a wonderful on-screen couple and their romantic sub-plot is a delight to watch. He helps her to set up the house and moments later, he confesses his love for her. Had this been a two minutes video, the two would have shared a cup of ‘Nescafe’ and lived happily ever after. Revathi, in particular, holds your attention in every single scene and there’s something so immensely likeable about her that you smile when she smiles, you cry when she cries. On the other hand, Arjun’s father tries to drive home the point that there’ll always be people who oppose you when you want to do something good for the society. Moments later, his belief in humanity is vindicated. It’s in moments like these that the film stores its emotional gravitas, and Krishna captures all this beautifully.
For a film that pretty much nails its family drama and romance, it’s a pity that the revenge angle turns out to be quite bland. Yes, we know that the good will triumph over evil, but that’s not the point here. The biggest issue with ‘Yuddham Sharanam’ is that it doesn’t give the chance to the audience to discover anything. The suspense of the film is its premise, which is revealed in the opening scene, and from there onwards, it becomes a question of time and how long will Arjun take to face off with his nemesis. We begin to see the proceedings unfold from Arjun’s perspective, but his journey to reach the goal feels too laborious, even though most part of the story unfolds in 24 hours. This is a tale of corrupt politicians, a dreaded gangster and his network, of cops trying to decipher clues although they seem to be way off the track. Quite frankly, you can’t engage the audience when there’s no puzzle to decipher when the story itself reveals everything in its opening act.
Naga Chaitanya finds himself in a familiar turf and his characterisation in Yuddham Sharanam has quite a few similarities with those in Gautham Menon’s Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo. The premise might be different, but the emotion driving the character is pretty much the same. The actor is extremely earnest and delivers a good performance, but like everyone else, he too deserved a better film. Srikanth looks terrific as a menacing villain, but his characterisation and dialogues are so cliched that the makeover loses its prominence.
To give credit where credit is due, the film has introduced a promising cinematographer Niketh Bommireddy to Telugu film industry. His sense of lighting and the realistic tone to the visuals makes you stand upright and take notice of his immense talent, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Vivek Sagar is impressive with his music.
At a runtime of 140 minutes, Yuddham Sharanam tries to weave a convincing tale of revenge and love. There’s a lot to like about it, but then, at the same time, the film doesn’t let you immerse yourself in its world. And this distance just keeps growing as we flip through its pages.
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