Since encounter killings seem to trigger many an ethical debate nowadays, J D Chekravarthy decides to present us with a remake of his mentor's factory product, Ab Tak Chappan
, just in case we missed out on the original. But contrary to public opinion, Siddham isn't an exact copy of Ab Tak 56 - in the Hindi version, Nana Patekar has a thinner moustache.
As some of us know, the movie is about an encounter specialist. CI Dayanand (Jagapati Babu) heads a task force to keep the city safe. Translated to English, that means that his team keeps bumping off all the dangerous elements of society, many times breaking the very rules the police set for the rest of us.
At work, Dayanand is very chilled out. He wears blue Jeans and a white shirt, comes up with 1 smartass dialogue to say to his team, swigs a bottle of water, swaggers to the field, zaps the bad guys as if they were cockroaches already sloshed with Hit, comes up with 1 smartass dialogue to say to the corpse, swigs a bottle of water, swaggers to his office, and comes up with 1 smartass dialogue to say to the Police Commissioner.
At home, things are pretty rough. He dutifully shops for vegetables on the way home, but before he goes to hug his daughter, his wife, Gouri (Sindhu Menon), takes one look at the little red stain in a corner of his white shirt, and fondly orders him to go and take a bath first. With soap.
But for those who get cynical about how cops are taking their actions for granted, Dayanand explains to the promising young rookie, Akhil, that his first shoot-out was a moral catastrophe - for his makeup man. This bloke made Dayanand look older in scenes where he's shown to be younger. When confronted with such weighty conflicts, Dayanand simply puts on his sun-glasses. This is a cue to the director to switch on the teleprompter to get him to say, "It's not a pleasant job, but someone has to do it." We are talking about the killings, of course.
These encounter specialists have their eye on a few gangs - one belonging to Bilal (Mukul Dev), a mobster who lives in Dubai; and the other, who is only referred to by name, a very imaginative 'Chota'. Bilal and Dayanand share a bitter-sweet relationship that enables Dayanand to get some crucial information, and that ensures that Bilal's men aren't in trouble.
Bilal, for his part, makes sure his character is likeable, but spoils it with his dress sense. It's okay to pass off outrageously foul language and deprecating comments on women as 'slick dialogue', but a red silk dhoti-kurta? Please, David Dhawan might be watching.
When Dayanand's boss (Kota Srinivasa Rao) retires, Dayanand's entire life changes. The new Police Commissioner doesn't think highly of Dayanand's superhero status in the media, and finds great company in Dayanand's disgruntled and envious junior, Salim. This causes a lot of mayhem. Most importantly, after the exit of Kota Srinivasa Rao, who already had only a teeny-weeny role, we are suddenly clueless about what to do with the 'Performances' parameter above. Dayanand rushes to the rescue with a smouldering look and some more smartass dialogue: "It's not a pleasant job, but someone has to do it." The rest of the story is about how trouble gets too personal with Dayanand.
Siddham is an engaging, fast-paced flick, but loses its grip towards the end, when the killings get too boring, plot twists are contrived, and the audience begins to care 2 hoots about justice - to the people on screen. Then, some scenes, like the one in which Dayanand talks to his wife about Pinky, turn out quite corny in execution.
The film is propelled by Jagapati Babu's screen presence, and he packs in a good punch. The other performances range from deadpan to mediocre. The hauntingly exciting soundtrack has the Factory's signature all over it. The visuals, however, do not.
Siddham is a good flick for Jagapati Babu fans. And for non-Jagapati fans, there's always the hope of seeing RGV's faded shadow.