Well, at the very least, the awesome choreography is back.
At the end of all the drumroll, fanfare, conch-blowing, blood and gore in Meher Ramesh's latest, NTR Junior's celebrated genius for dancing is one of the few things you get to rejoice about. Shakti is a film that straddles in one breath the Da Vinci Code, Chandamama, Iron Man, Magadheera and what have you. And chokes us.
Shakti boasts of imposing sets, a multitude of characters, an ambitious zeal to talk religion (with its intricate delving into the concept of the Goddess' Shakti Peethas), and plenty, plenty of "action". The result is a noisy, loud canvas so crowded there's very little space for, well, entertainment. And sometimes, sense.
The flick begins with a grotesque flashback of how the Egyptians, led by a weirdly-named evil queen (Pooja Bedi), want possession of a super-powerful totem that "will bring all their mummies back to life". Then, it jumps to a point in the present in India, where Aishwarya (Ileana), the daughter of India's home minister Mahadevarayulu (Prabhu) sneaks out of home to holiday with her friends in north India. On her trip, she's being forced to be accompanied by the rough and boorish Shakti (NTR Junior), a tour guide.
Thanks to a royal lineage, Mahadevarayulu is responsible for protecting the Jwalamukhi (a Dan Brown esque cryptex that houses a huge gem) and the Rudrasoolam - both wanted by the manic Egyptians - so the villains now want to net Aishwarya in order to get to their goal.
The plot is populated by way too many things to remember - the religious artefacts, the people who own them, the people who covet them, the people who broker them. Plus, the significance of these objects, what they will bring to life, how they must be used, when they must be used.
Logic is given a miss sometimes. How did the people trapped inside the holy cave come out of it even after the audience was told it wouldn't open for another 20 years? What was the deal with the queen gouging out the eyes of her son and replacing them with the ones of her dead husband?
Essentially, many times, the flick spends most of its time setting the stage for something big... and then tearing it down with a lengthy fight. There's no drama, no emotion, no romance, and in general, very little point.
And no histrionics, either. NTR gets to be his star self only in his intro scene-cum-fight-cum-song, and in the rest of the movie, he's basically only decimating people. Ileana sits pretty in a role that calls for her presence only for the song (one of which, by the way, was being chopped as we were watching the flick). The lady's one insider joke moment, in which she drools over Salman Khan's posters of Wanted
, a remake of her own blockbuster
, goes unnoticed.
Ali has a sizeable presence in the first half, but Venu Madhav and Brahmanandam are utterly forgettable. Nasseer, Prabhu, Jackie Shroff, Sonu Sood and everyone else do what we usually see them do. SPB eloquence personified in his brief role.
Pleasing cinematography, including visuals of Rajasthan's deserts, the snow-capped mountains of the north and a replication of the surge of humanity at the Kumbh Mela. Manisarma borrows a couple of tunes from Khaleja, and, in all, whips up a foot-tapping collection.
Watch it if you've cleared your schedule for it, but that would be an unfortunate excuse.