An interesting observation as you walk out of the theater screening Ashok is the gender composition of the crowd - it's about 90% male. Going by Ashok alone, it is likely to be that way for NTR's next film too.
Ashok is just another NTR film - very high on revenge and violence, with Superman leading the cast. There are chopped heads spinning in the air, there are flailing limbs making their way about, and there is blood spurting out of somewhere or the other half the time. Sewing it all up together is a story that you seem to see twice every month these days. Yes, a big problem for Ashok is that Pokiri
, highly violent films, are too fresh in the marketplace, and most Telugu film buffs seem to have seen both.
Add to that the fact that families will stay out of such gore - there's nothing here in terms of comedy or romance - and what you have is another one in NTR's now long litany. Ashok will perhaps not sink in the spectacular fashion of Narasimhudu
, but it is certainly not the triumph that NTR is looking for to resuscitate a career spiralling into nowhere.
Ashok (NTR) is a mechanic staying away from his family after his father (Prakash Raj) has expelled him from home for his violent ways. In the process of saving his sister from some goons, he makes a very powerful enemy, KK (Sonu Sood), a savage ganglord. To make matters worse, KK falls in love with Anjali (Sameera Reddy), who is Ashok's girl.
Ashok goes about decimating KK's gang when the latter tries to take him on, until KK hatches a ploy to get Ashok's father to get him to move to Delhi to take up a job. KK then captures Anjali and kills Ashok's best friend Raju (Rajiv Kanakala) who is trying to save her. This makes Ashok return, and the gore gets some notches higher as vendetta takes its rightful place at the top of this film's feature-list.
The only light moment in the 3-hour film is a brief interlude with Venu Madhav. Everything else feels so déjà vu - a villian guided by an evil mother, goons brandishing swords and travelling in Sumos Seema-style, lines about true heroes not being scared to die… Even the premises for the songs look so embarrassingly forced in.
Added to that, the romance element is almost absent - the courtship is as unlikely as it can get, and NTR and Sameera Reddy don't have much onscreen chemistry. For starters, she's taller than him. And then, she is used primarily for songs, which themselves are not chartbusters.
The film then becomes basically a gore tale, which will work only if enough passions are aroused in the audiences through powerful characterization, inciting sequences and electrifying dialogues. There are parts where the film delivers on these - like when NTR chats up the villian's mother - but they are too few. This is a film about brute muscle power, not creativity.
The interval scene, for instance, could easily have seen KK shoot the cornered Ashok's brains out before the latter pulls the pin of the grenade in his hand, or even after. Instead, an army of goons chooses to run.
All performances are good, and the film also looks good due to some slick camerawork. But it doesn't have that special something to make a violent film a hit - the primary reason being that it is not easy to come up with some special something in a violent film now, given how many of them have hit the screens this season and even become hits. There's been an overdose, and people have seen too much nifty work in that genre to be easily impressed anymore.
NTR is stuck in an image that worked while it did but is being grossly overdone now. He needs luck in finding some innovative directors who can use his acting potential in alternate genres.