Pushpa: The Rise (Telugu)
Starring: Allu Arjuns, Rashmika Mandanna, Fahadh Faasil
Written & Directed by Sukumar
Allu Arjun is exceptionally effective as the forest-bred bandit who takes on the sandalwood mafia. The film, sad to say, is woefully crude and tactless, unleashing the kind of melodramatic maelstrom that may have appealed two decades earlier. Now, it all seems way too gruff grisly and oldworld to be forgiven as mere “entertainment”
I feel sorry for those who get entertained by the endless surge of villainy and the tiresome torrent of tyranny that is unleashed by the volley of unscrupulous villains with sundry mafia-like agendas. Our unlikely hero is named Pushpa Raj.Don’t make the mistake of considering him a flower, for he is not a damn phool but a raging fire: Pushpa reminds us more than once during the course of this coarse and often repugnant action drama which makes the cardinal mistake of distinguishing the Good Antisocial from the Bad Antisocial.
Since a huge star Allu Arjun plays the Good Antisocial he is seen to be an outlaw with a sound moral code underlining his criminal behaviour. For example, he treats women with respect.Or so he tells us early in the long-and-winding, loud-and-whining melodrama. The facts tell another story.When the spunky village girl Srivalli(Rashmika Mandanna) refuses to reciprocate his feelings for her, Pushpa’s sidekick bribes the girl to smile and kiss Pushpa.
In a sequence that audiences have objected to, he gropes her in a car . We don’t know how money much exchanged hands for this deed. Or for the suhaag raat which will probably happen in Part 2 of this ongoing nerve-wracking monstrosity of an action-adventure drama.
The writing is so dated that the whole romantic subplot feels like it belongs to a museum of the defunct arts. In a notably obnoxious twist of the plot, one of the villains(don’t ask , which one, as they all crowd the bustling canvas and they are all for some strange reason,dark-complexioned) tells Srivalli to go home ,bathe and soap and bedeck herself in a silk saree come back, spend the night with him in exchange for her father’s life.
Srivalli dresses up and heads for the hero home and knocks his door for help, yes the same one whom she was bribed to kiss. What follows is an orgy of mayhem that leaves the camera and the audience in a spin.Even before we recover from this aggressive onslaught on our senses, the extraordinarily talented Fahadh Faasil shows up at the fag-end of the film as the baap of all corrupt cops,shaven head twirling moustache and all.The conflict between Allu Arjun and Faasil , replete with dialogues insulting the hero’s parentage and the villain’s greed, has to be seen to be believed.
Pushpa The Rise frequently has us scratching our heads in disbelief stretching all incredulity beyond breaking point to show the loutish hero making his way up the crime syndicate with the kind of streetwisdom that wouldn’t fool a child from a primaryschool let alone all these hardened sadistic criminals who don’t just threaten to blow off their enemies’ heads, they go right ahead and do the dirty deed.
Standing tall in the morass of mayhem is Allu Arjun in a career-transformative performance , his slouching body language,his nervous dance moves and his gravelly dialogue delivery are all a marvel to behold. I would gladly look at Pushpa as a showcase for Arjun’s talents were it not for the film’s shoddy moral dynamics and the motorized mean machinery which steamrollers any of the work’s good intentions, if any .
By the time the great Fahadh Faasil walked in belatedly it was too late wonder why he was there in the film practicing the Gulshan Grover brand of villainy. All one wants is for this trippy and violent homage to anarchy to end.