There are actors and there are artistes in the film industry. Actors are a dime a dozen but artistes are so few that you can count them on your fingers. Prakash Raj is one of them. We have seen the artiste in him in Iddaru and Antahpuram. And now we see one more facet of the artiste in him in Maharani, though, he is only a shadow of his former self.
If he was a lion in human form, prowling the faction-ridden Rayalaseema region thirsting for blood, in Antahpuram, in Maharani he is the bisexual Begum of the red-light area on Grant Road in Mumbai, sending shivers down the spine of its occupants.
As the Maharani, his strength is so awesome and his network so wide, that it includes the who's who of the high and mighty in Mumbai. No one dare cross swords with him. If any one does, he is probably out of his mind.
But the law of nature has its own way of preserving the equilibrium and ensuring that the mighty bite the dust. And this happens in the form of a confrontation between the Maharani and Prashant, a taxi driver who falls for Devayani, the pretty belle of the Maharani's house.
Prashant is all set to rescue her even if he has to ruffle the feathers of the Maharani. He rescues her and flees the place to keep her in a hideout, far away from the gaze of the Maharani. But not without spilling blood. That is the blood of his friends and well wishers, who fall prey to the Maharani's wrath.
Prashant comes back to avenge the death of his near and dear. And it is undeclared war between the taxi driver and the Badshah of Mamba's notorious brothel house.
A remake of Sadak, the film does not come anyway near to the Hindi version. Though Prakash Raj tries to do his best to wipe out the memory of Sadashiv Amrapurkar, he comes nowhere near - for the simple reason that Vasanth is no Mahesh Bhatt to elicit a sterling performance.
Prashant tries to put up a macho image but doesn't live up to the expectations. And neither does Devyani, who doesn't have anything to do except wait and watch with glycerin-drenched eyes for Prashant to bail her out of the hellhole.
Sadak boasts of some good lyrics set to some wonderful tunes, but the less talked about the lyrics in this Telugu version the better (this is actually a dubbed Tamil film, titled Appu originally). Even the comedy does not jell. The film lacks focus and looks like the director (or may be the producer) wanted to make the film just for the heck of it. The subtle emotions between the hero and heroine, which are the hallmark of Sadak, are no where to be seen in Maharani.
With all its limitations, Maharani is still worth a watch if you haven't seen Sadak. With no Sadashiv Amrapurkar in mind, Prakash Raj's performance stands out.