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Cast: Vishnu, Anushka
Direction: Veteran Suresh Krishna
Production: Raju Harwani
Music: S A Rajkumar
When a successful movie is remade, the thing to be looked at is not success alone. The context and relevance are also important. When Sarfarosh became a hit in Hindi some years back, one of the reasons for it was that the film had a lot of relevance and the story could easily take off from the real-life terrorist happenings on the Rajasthan border. In other words, the viewers were able to ‘connect’ with it. Of course the taut script and the bankable acting of Aamir Khan also helped.
But when Sarfarosh has been remade in Telugu as Asthram, the relevance in terms of geographical exactitude is missing. For an Andhra policeman to worry about arms smuggling through Rameshwaram is hardly convincing. And further, while Sarfarosh was closer to life (the India-Pakistan cultural exchanges), Asthram has no such redeeming element.
In short, Suresh Krishna seems to have taken the cover but not the content, and Asthram seems a cardboard copy with hardly any dimension either to characters or to the script. Only Vishnu’s sincerity is the standalone feature. But even he needs to keep an eye on his girth.
The story is about Siddharth (Vishnu) who becomes an IPS man after terrorists lay low his dad. Siddharth is on a mission to finish off the ultras. There is Anusha (Anushka) and KV (Jackie Shroff) in his life. The former is his ladylove, the latter, a singer, is a kind of idol for Siddharth.
The policeman’s efforts to unravel the terrorist network picks up momentum with him nailing Mirchi Malliah. The unspooling of the links lead up to KV, and the rest is how Siddharth deals with the situation.
If Sarfarosh had a gritty and humane touch all through, Asthram misses them completely and instead comes across as just a potboiler.
Vishnu, looking for a major break in his break, is earnest. He tries. Sometimes too hard. But he has improved his acting. Though he needs to work on his looks and dialogue delivery, the young man has shown enough promise for us to keep an eye on him. Anushka, the hot babe, is indeed hot (in terms of glamour). But again, her role is too sketchy and limited. Jackie Shroff as the singer KV is hamstrung by the fact that his role has very little contextual connection. Again, to compare his work with character that Naseeruddin Shah did in the original is a tad unfair.
The technical aspects of the movie pass muster. But S A Rajkumar’s music certainly could have been more movie-specific.
Suresh Krishna used to be a gritty masala moviemaker. Somehow, these days, he seems to be giving the impression of trying to make movies for image and impression rather than out any intrinsic appeal. Therein may lie the fault.
Asthram, in other words, is no big weapon.
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