The important thing to remember when making a movie for the masses is that people don’t like surprises. Sure, some pleasant surprises we can stomach. Like the hero suddenly discovering his gift for flight on being trapped at the top of a skyscraper, or the invincible villain’s willingness to die easily once all his ugly aides have popped it. These surprises are, more or less, considered covered by the admission fee; but unpleasant ones like the plot developing character and suddenly sprouting sense... those will not be tolerated. Fortunately, Shiv Shankar does not spring a single unexpected twist, pleasant or otherwise, in its entire running time.
The story proceeds on the steam of one popular leading man, which makes it exactly like about 7,896,402,004 movies produced around the world every year. Like all those films, this one is about a hero who is wronged, and his torrid tale of revenge. Prepare to watch blood splatter, guts spilled and necks twisted. And the scene inside the theater isn’t pretty either.
Once you have braved the mob and wrangled tickets to the movie, get ready for some spiritual reckoning. Enter an extremely pious, extremely calm, extremely bald hero (Mohan Babu aka Shiv Shankar), who has one son, one nympho girlfriend and one gory past. Heavy baggage for a Buddhist monk, but this is no ordinary Buddhist monk. This one can chase a Sumo on a horse, his robes flying menacingly in the wind; he can whip thirty meanies with one stout stick; and he can resist the industrial-strength charm of a half-naked Netanya Singh.
It’s this last detail that really gets her goat, and prompts our heroine to pry into the holy man’s unholy past: Is he married? Is he gay? Is he immune to third-rate seduction and unmistakable bawdy language - which once again brings us to: is he gay? No, he’s just a sensitive soul with a flashback. A flashback that features his perfect wife, perfect family and perfect job.
Shivaji (hero with hair) is the right-hand man of a very powerful criminal. His job description promises him a challenging work environment and constant, enriching interaction with swords, rotating blades and gunfire. While Shivaji pledges his life to unending, meaningless violence, he wants his sons to have a better life, and tries to shield his family from the harsher aspects of his job, i. e. the occasional shower of glass in the living room and the bloody police encounters, where hapless constables are killed in the latest Matrix-y stunts. The Wachowski brothers have a lot to answer for.
Despite Shivaji’s best efforts, his son finds out the truth when he walks in on the above-mentioned police encounter. To make things worse, the boy witnesses a murder by his dad’s boss’ son. To ensure his silence, the dad’s boss’ son kills Shivaji’s son and wife, who later comes back to life. Twisted enough for you? No? Hang around, there’s more.
The remainder of the film is a series of fights, each one ending in the decapitation, serious maiming or strangulation of principal characters. Oh, don’t worry, the hero doesn’t die. No surprises here, remember?
But the climax of the film is curious - as in, it does not technically exist. It was during the making of the movie that actress Soundarya (who plays Mohan Babu’s wife) passed away in the plane crash, so the film ends with a tribute to her, and some unnecessary and profoundly tasteless footage of her accident.
Shrill drama, violent costumes and blaring choreography – everything the posters promise you, and nothing you don’t see coming. But hey, we won’t knock it. After all, there’s a certain numbing comfort in consistency.