Most experienced Tollywood directors will tell you that there are only 2-3 scripts on the menu, really. It's how you cook them that matters - it's foolhardy to come up with new items.
Which is why most experienced Tollywood directors are a public calamity. And the strike rate in Tollywood averages 5 out of 150 every year.
Also, Shahrukh, Aamir, Hrithik and Salman did not make a single formula movie in 3 years now. And Saif, Akshay and Abhishek. And Ajay, Sanjay and John. And, heck, Shreyas Talpade.
And none of them beats up a dozen goons single-handedly in movie after movie, showcasing gore so explicitly that the film warrants an A rating.
Indeed, Tollywood directors must really think we are all an amorphous bunch of Neanderthals.
But that's just an aside, really. Let's get to the review at hand.
Athidhi betrays its shallow core right at the end of the first introductory fight, when Mahesh breaks into a pointless formula song when you are wound up with anticipation (and that's not to say that the introduction shows great creativity either). And that sets the tone for a movie that seems more to go through the motions than showcase gripping narration.
Indeed, Athidhi is just another formula movie, and an average one at that - it uses Mahesh as a prop rather than as a tool. No, the movie is nothing like what you thought it might be from its name - nothing like Athadu
in theme, that is. It is more about slick presentation than soul.
Athidhi (Mahesh, named ridiculously) gets convicted at the age of 7 in the murder of a couple, actually committed by a psychopath Kaiser. When he is released 13 years later, he makes it his life's mission to take on goons and to kill Kaiser, and in the process, runs into Amrita (Amrita Rao), the daughter of the couple, who falls in love with him when he saves her from some goons.
Amrita is heir to crores of rupees, and when he realizes that her life is in danger because of this, Athidhi comes to her home to stay with her to be able to rescue her. However, his identity is revealed in a police investigation (Amrita's uncle is the home minister), and Amrita hates him for being the killer of her parents. In the meantime, it surfaces that it is Kaiser out to kill her.
If it were not for Mahesh's star presence, Athidhi would be a very unremarkable movie. Unfortunately, that's almost the case even with Mahesh in it.
Firstly, there's no easy flow to the film - it appears to try to be another Pokiri
for a good part in the first half, with all the violence and gang wars, interspersed unharmoniously with a courtship. Then there are inanities like Mahesh slapping Amrita, and too many coincidences, which you'd hardly expect to see in a properly thought-out film.
The second half has a bigger problem - it seems to plod on and on (the film lasts almost 3 hours). It also seems to borrow plenty from various other films from time to time - like Ek Ajnabee
/ Man On Fire (the kidnapping of Amrita) and Raghavan
/ Braveheart (the climax). And sometimes you can lose track of what's happening.
For example, just what was it about Inspector Ajay Shastri getting tied up by Athidhi and confessing? The flashback of the plotting to kill Amrita is also confusing. And the way Kaiser's identity is revealed is a big letdown after all the hype. Plus, what is that whole Dhoolpet thing about? It all points to a lack of a rigorous intellectual effort before the first shot was clapped, and perhaps choppy editing to cut the length. Plus, the songs seem to pop up rather unwelcomely.
Mahesh saves the film to an extent with his star appeal and glamor quotient, and Amrita with her freshness and chirpy performance. The movie looks sleek - arguably the only real plus - with the exception of some sorry graphics in the climax fight. The music by Mani Sharma is unlikely to set any charts on fire, though a couple of songs are hummable.
After Athadu and Pokiri, people go to a Mahesh movie expecting something different. Filmmakers, however, seem to be going to him smelling merely quick money. Athidhi is an average film with too much gore and too little substance, and whether you wish to see it depends on your love for Mahesh and your other options.