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Srikanth Is The Most Endearing Biopic In Recent Times




Rating: ****

Normally, biopics  in  Hindi cinema struggle to  cram in  as much eulogy  as possible.Tushar  Hiranandani’s  Srikanth is different.It  is a warm  and  affectionate  look at a  truelife hero  .But it avoids being a  visual  hagiography.

Rajkummar Rao  in a performance that  he  can  show to his unborn children humanizes  the  blind  entrepreneur  Srikanth  Bolla  without denuding the character  of  any of his blemishes.

Into the rarest-of-rare category falls the visually impaired visionary  Srikanth Bolla whose lifestory is  so  inspiring, it would take  a devastatingly  doltish director to destroy  the dream. Happily,Tushar Hiranandani is  not  an inept filmmaker,  though he  could have  taken Srikant Bolla’s story  much further than it actually goes in this heartfelt love story: the  love of a insurmountably disadvantaged  man  for life.

This existential ebullience  comes  shining through in Rajkumar Rao’s buoyant performance. It would be  no exaggeration to  say Rao is the  life and breath  of Srikanth. Rao  seems to enjoy his character Srikanth’s  zest for life , his self-deprecatory humour his pride  and,yes,  his ego  to the  hilt , and embraces  the character  with all  his blemishes  wholeheartedly.

What a  joy it is to  see a  biographical  figure on screen  who doesn’t smell only of roses. While watching some recent biopics  I  felt I had accidently zoned into  mythologicals, plastic haloes  and all, poor Atal getting  the worst treatment.

 But hello hello, Rajkummar Rao’s Srikanth comes across as  a flawed  but fabulous fighter: no brownie points for his disability, thank you.  Hence, while the  first-half  shows  the  spirited  dreamer fighting his way to a place where  the sightless can never  reach, the  second-half shows Srikanth as  a churlish  overreacher who shuns  away  those who had helped him  gain his stature  in spite if  all odds,  namely his  teacher Devika(Jyothika,  lovely as ever), girlfriend Swathi (Alaya F, leaves an impression in a film which essentially has room for only one  character  to shine) and business partner Ravi(Sharad  Kelkar) …

The  script(Jagdeep Siddhu, Sumit Purohit)  hurries through Srikanth’s moral decline  and  quick  redemption, as though running  out of  time.  I  fear  director Tushar Hiranandani’s concern  for  not losing his  audiences’ attention inveigled  him into going too fast in the second-half.

 Admittedly the over-clenched editing(Debasmita Mitra,Sanjay Sankla)  keep the proceedings on red-alert throughout. Srikanth is  a hurried bio-pic but there’s  never a dull moment. At times, the writing is   spectacularly engrossing. I especially liked the tantrum that  Srikanth throws at the airport when  Srikanth is  not allowed to travel  alone .

Whatever  the blemishes in the storytelling  and in Srikanth’s  character,  Rajkummar Rao makes us  overlook the hurdles and keeps us focussed on the larger picture rather than the  petty details.

Rao is extraordinarily effective. His Srikanth Bolla is stubborn,proud, cheeky, dismissive, arrogant , touchy and often rude.  I don’t know how much of all this the real Srikanth is.  But I suspect this is the best and the least  compromised  version of  the real Srikanth that we get to see.

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