Cast: Prabhas, Shraddha Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Mahesh Manjrekar, Chunkey Pandy, Jackie Shroff
Stars: 2 out of 5
“They are not going to stop until they kill us,” declares the swashbuckling hero Prabhas as he tries to protect his colleague and lover Shraddha Kapoor from a bunch of gun-toting villains spraying bullets indiscriminately in his new action thriller Saaho.
It’s a grim reality that could easily be extended to the audience who had to sit through the incredibly slick and star-powered, but spectacularly soulless film, directed by Sujeeth.
Swagger and style is no replacement for a solid, coherent story is a chief take after surviving this testosterone charged drivel. While you admire the beautifully, perfectly-timed car chases and vehicle explosions, your mind is likely to be blown away by the lack of content.
The movie opens in a futuristic and fictional place called Waaji City filled with criminals in the quest for power and shady deals.
There’s a vacuum when its patriarch played by Jackie Shroff is murdered by an insider from his conscience-starved clan and a bloody hustle for his replacement plays out. All the villains in Saaho are unidimensional and live in a morally reprehensible bubble where businessmen in suits maim their fathers in anger.
Between all this bloody carnage, there’s a convoluted bank robbery thrown into the mix. It’s almost impossible to keep up with the double crossing and triple crossing that play out in Saaho. At some point, you might even cease to care.
Unless you are a die-hard fan of Prabhas and adore witnessing souped-up cars and trucks being blown up randomly, you are unlikely to find any satisfaction in Saaho.
The romance in Saaho where a self-assured undercover cop hits on his fetching work partner Amritha Nair, played suitably by Kapoor, at her workplace is also deeply problematic. A dialogue which has Prabhas salaciously checking Amrutha out and comment that she is too pretty to be a police officer is blatantly sexist and disturbing to watch. Such toxic locker room talk has no place in a thriller purportedly set in a futuristic world.
But that isn’t the only thing that rubs you the wrong way. Dark complexioned villains in dreadlocks that spring out of nowhere during the inflated climax is a disappointing example of stereotypic certain ethnicities in films. Large beefy men with gigantic torsos and gargantuan tattoos are wholly charmless too. While Chunkey Pandey, Lal and Mahesh Manjrekar try to be menacing, they are let down by poorly-written lines. Hamming seems to be a bloody sport in Saaho.
There’s also a lot going on in Saaho. On the surface, it’s a mindless-and-ambitious action thriller, but it also aspires to be a romantic film laced with betrayal and deceit.
When things go south, they also insert swish songs where there’s ample skin and sun to be enjoyed. Songs with lyrics such as “you are a bad boy and I will be your bad girl” featuring a bodacious Jacqueline Fernandez in the tiniest denims shorts feels unwanted, especially in a film that would have benefitted a lot from trimming. Just short of three hours, Saaho is an exhausting film that focus on style and not substance.
While the action sequences set in Abu Dhabi, choreographed by Kenny Bates and the set designs by Sabu Cyril, are impressive, there’s little else going on for Saaho. Even a shirtless Prabhas gliding down a mountain like a superhero with gleaming torsos is a sight to behold, there’s no strong landing here. Watch this at your own risk.