Movie Reviews

Prassthanam Movie Review : It Is A Powerful Melodrama

Prassthanam

Starring Sanjay Dutt, Manisha  Koirala, Ali Fazal, Satyajit Dubey, Jackie Shroff

Directed  by  Deva Katta

Rating: ****(4 stars) 

Midway through the  stormy tale of politics, family feuds, sibling rivalry  and other elements  of  simmering discontent , an incidental  character  tells the  film’s primary antagonist,  “It’s always  happened in history. Brother kills  brother for power.”

This terrible truism  holds together a  film plotted  like  a spiralling  hurricane of  ceaseless  conflicts  spinning out of control at  certain points but eventually holding together  its core  theme  of  blood being thicker than water . This, in summation , is what Prassthanam is  all about . It’s  the story of  family of politician  that faces  a crisis  of identity  . 

The  film captures the  characters  in Sanjay Dutt’s family as  viciously compromised  by the 

desire to usurp power by hook  or by crook.The Dutt clan here could be  the  moghul dynasty gone  manfully mofussil .While the  dramatic conflict is constantly heightened and  intensified by a desire  to  pre-empt audiences’  expectations, the film derives its strength primarily  from the  way the characters  respond to  one another  during times of crisis.

Director Deva Katta who had  made the same  film  very successfully  in Telugu ten years  ago tightens  the script, edits out  some of the lengthier discussions on the nature of power and politics, but retains the essence of the original in  the way Sanjay Dutt’s  character’s  two sons, played by  Ali Fazal and debutant Satyajit Dubey, respond  to Uttar Pradesh’s  arching bristling politics.

Both Ali Fazal and  Satyajit Dubey execute the  conundrum of sibling  rivalry with  conviction and intensity. Dubey is  quite  a find. His psychotic character gives an all-new dimension to the  clichéof  the spoilt rich pampered privileged brat who after a  point cannot tell right from wrong, and cannot  differentiate  between  the  weak and the strong.

But it’s Sanjay Dutt who holds  the film together. His character Baldev Pratap Singh goes through many upheavals and  eventually arrives at a point where he  loses the audiences’ empathy. Duttsteers  the  characters ably and expertly  through a labyrinth  of power  pain and retribution.Jackieas Dutt’s  faithful  man-friday hardly speaks. His implosive rage  is  fearsome.And the eventual  outburst  is devastating.

Manisha  Koirala  exudes a tragic grace in  her quietest moments  as  a mother who  must watch her two sons from  different  fathers bring  ruination on  the family.But the script really  has no patience with women characters ,  who are all dealt with hurriedly. This  is  a masculine beefcake-bound  show filled with furious melodrama and  macho  conflicts .The  male actors make the best  of the situation inhaling the  toxic  air with relish .

By the  time this  demoniacally  dysfunctional  family’s darkest  secret tumbles out, we are so  inured  in  the plot’s torrent  of  drama and retribution that nothing  shocks. The numbing quality of  plotted shocks delivered  in  an uninterrupted   furious flow  of energized  drama, could have been slowed down . 

The storytelling  has no breathing space, and  after a point it becomes difficult to empathize in the stifling  milieu  of  internecine  politics with a  family that is hellbent on self-destruction. And yet    the  mood of the narrative is  stubbornly compelling.And I found it hard to  turn away from the  destiny of doom that  the characters  wear like  a deathly cloak.

The  action sequences, many filmed on crowded roads and overbridges and one specially heartstopping  fight  in a movie theatre ,  are impressively  staged. If only  the  film had avoided the  outdated  conventions of  a big budget melodrama,   like  an ill-timed item song(horribly inopportune and ugly)  or dialogues that are meant to be loaded with  relevance but are actually so  

shallow they make the  characters sound far less intelligent than they are meant  to be.

Despite the  outpouring  of melodrama , Prassthanam  manages to make itself into something of  a  twisted  morality tale where the loyalty  of the loyalist is constantly  questioned.  Jackie Shroffas the  faithful man-Friday who finally realize  high the price paid for his blind allegiance to a family  of  feudal  puppets ,  epitomizes  what the  film  signifies. 

Prassathanam  remains  faithful to the  big family sagas  of yore only to realize just in time that times have changed.It’s like a streetside Godfather  ,  crude yet compelling.

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