Starring Rajendra Prasad, Naresh Agastya, Harsha Vardhan, Gnaneswari Kandregula, Satya Prakash
Directed by Sri Ganesh
Akira Kurosawa, no less. The inspiration for this Telugu hodgepodge of underdog-drama and cops-thriller which has been largely loved by most, is Kurosowa’s early 1949 psychological thriller Stray Dogs.
A newly recruited cop with a dark past loses his service revolver while chasing a goon. The rest is a chronicle of conceit, deceit and eventual defeat , with the cop-hero sliding from brave underdog to a whiny loser, never to redeem himself . Part of the fault for this shabby remake’s inability to modulate the hero’s moral compass in accordance with the wild and sudden swings in the plot, has to do with the co-writers—and there are four them—and their failure to stay empathetic to the young callow hero Krishna(Naresh Agastya)’s dismaying predicament.
As Krishma searches frantically for his missing gun—and some of the hot pursuit is nimbly shot in crowded places filled with startled bystanders rather than selfconscious junior artistes—the plot becomes more interested in the archvillain Krishnamurthy and his two assistants Hussain (Rakendu Mouli) and Raju (Josh Ravi).
As Krishnamurthy takes over the show we get insistent sympathy alerts on him from the screenplay. Krishnamurthy, as played by the seasoned Rajendra Prasad, is a senior citizen neglected by his children and in dire need of cash to win back his family’s respect. So what does Krishnamurthy do? He robs a bank using the cop-hero’s missing revolver. Nice.
Tragically,the gun is by now a forgotten character in the fidgety screenplay. It surfaces now and then like a ragged doll bubbling to the surface in a murky pond . But as the screenplay shifts tones from redemption to exhilaration the entire plot proceedings comes apart at the seams exposing the yawning chasm between Kurosawa and his distant disciples.
Some of the earlier episodes in the long and whining road are nominally interesting. The burgeoning relationship between the cop-hero Krishna and a news anchor Satya(Gnaneswari Kandregula) is rudely cut short by the extraneous exigencies of the plot.This a story that is in a hurry to move on.
We soon realize that the director is not out to make a credible cops thrillers. The gameplan is to keep the audience hooked at any cost. Hence Harsha Vardhan is roped in as the hero’s cop colleague,. He likes to sing old Hindi film songs to make his point. Good to see Hindi being used constructively for a change in a South Indian film. Normally it is the language of unwanted migrants and criminals .
Senapathi draws its inspiration from Kurosawa and ends up turning a sushi dish into an overspiced rice-rasam concoction that is neither here nor there. A Tamil film 8 Thottakkal based on the same subject had done even more irreparable damage to Kurosawa. If that is any consolation.