The Hindi remakes of South-Indian films are usually ridiculed for being star vehicles. When you see movies like Lion, you know why. Lion's first song has two have-been actors Siva Balaji and Archana singing praises equating the hero to Lord Krishna. Balakrishna, meanwhile, is standing in the centre of the frame soaking in all the attention and doing a step or two in between. The song is there for no purpose other than deifying the leading man who attains godly status by beating up a bunch of goons teasing Archana and lecturing them about respecting women. That the same man refers to two heroines as liquor chukka and chicken mukka should not even be taken into consideration.
Lion, then, is a full-on star vehicle for NBK - the only sad part being that the star himself looks so tired and jaded in the first half of the film that it is almost impossible to buy into him as a superhero or invest in any of the two romantic tracks.
The film shows a man waking up in a hospital after being in a coma for 18 months. Once he is awake, he calls himself Bose while people around him call him Godse. He remembers a different set of parents while a different set of people tell him that he is their son. Who is he then? Is this his memory playing tricks with him? And why are all the people he believes he knows behaving in such a strange manner? This forms the crux of Lion. And Balakrishna, obviously then, plays two roles - those of Bose and Godse.
Lion resembles films of the '80s. We were wondering why and then we found out that the director was a protégé of Dasari Narayana Rao - it suddenly made so much more sense. The director takes after his mentor and follows Dasari's filmmaking ethos to the T, leading to many archaic sentimental scenes. The pace of the film is also lethargic to a fault - more tortoise than lion. The romantic tracks are so terribly written and feel so out of place that even hardcore NBK fans will find them hard to digest.
Coming to the acting talent on display, Balakrishna looks his usual self in the Bose role, but old in the Godse role. The songs with the much younger heroines look awkward, and for some reason, the star himself seems pretty disinterested. You can hardly complain about his histrionics, but there's not much even he can do with these half-baked characters. Trisha and Radhika Apte are hardly there, as are the others in the supporting cast. All of them seem to acting more in a stage play and less in a movie, and take the film down a couple more notches.
Manisharma also seems to have given up. The BGM is filled with chants of "Bose, Bose", and the songs hardly register. Technically, too, the film does not rise above mediocre. The producers seem to have wrapped up the film within a decent budget, which is certainly a good thing in this case.
Lion will not excite the masses or the classes, but more importantly, even the hardcore fans are likely to be disappointed. Unless seeing humans bouncing higher and better than Bodyline bouncers is your kind of thing, stay far away.