May 28, 2024

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Srikanth Review | A Shallow Showreel Biopic With an Excellent Rajkummar Rao

3 min read

Srikanth, the latest Rajkummar Rao starrer directed by Tushar Hiranandani, is a biopic that just skims through the bullet points in the life of industrialist Srikanth Bolla. With familiar dramatization elements getting used along with a lot of punch line dialogues, the film is extremely flat in terms of understanding the psyche of the central character. What really works is the performance of Rajkummar Rao, who brings in variations so effectively into his performance that even the most cliched lines felt inspiring. 

So it is the biopic of Srikanth Bolla. He was born into a poor family in Andhra Pradesh. He was born visually impaired, but he aspired to do greater things in life. His limitations forced the parents to send him to a special school in Hyderabad, and he was a star in that school. There he met his teacher/mentor Devika, who helped him a lot. When Srikanth decided to choose science post his 10th standard, he was told that the Indian education system didn’t support blind people in pursuing science after school. What we see in the movie is the various stages of the fight Srikanth had to go through in order to be considered a normal person rather than a special person with a disability.

What really makes this movie emotionally underwhelming is its lack of innovative writing in presenting the character to the audience. The screenplay has that ultra-generic linear structure where you get a picture of the upbringing and education of the character in the most typical manner possible. It’s like you create a very linear scene order and then flesh it out in the most spoon-feeding manner possible. There is a phase in the movie’s second half, where the film starts to look like it will show us the selfish side of the hero. But very soon it takes a U-Turn by justifying why he is like that.

The only element that saves the movie from being a bland documentation of the life of Srikanth Bolla is the performance of Rajkummar Rao. He is playing the character’s transition from the age of 14 to the 30s. And we can see the reactions evolving in a subtle yet evident manner. The way he uses the eyebrows, which are constantly in a wavy motion, could have made the performance look very gimmicky on screen. But Rao knows the meter and never overdid. Jyothika and Sharad Kelkar played the parts of the mentor and business partner respectively, and they were both fine in those characters. Alaya F, as Swathi, has very little to do here as the girlfriend of Srikanth. 

Rather than focusing on any sort of conflict, the movie approaches Srikanth’s story as a series of various hurdles. The thing with that approach is that after a point, it just becomes a documentation of roadblocks he faced rather than how he dealt with all that. So, when we are shown that Srikanth has a new obstruction ahead of him, we don’t feel a curiosity to know how he tackled it as the pattern of the screenplay subconsciously gives us an idea that some emotional dialogue baazi will help him in that situation. The only conflict that arises in the movie is between Srikanth and his partner, Ravi. But like I already said, the hero learns the lesson really quickly even his mentor is justifying his way of not apologising for mistakes. T Series is a coproducer of the movie, and hence, there is a newer version of an old track in this film as well. This time it is Papa Kehte Hain from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, and luckily that song fits into the theme of this movie.

There is no debate that the life of Srikanth Bolla, a blind man who became an industrialist and told APJ Abdul Kalam that he aspires to become the first visually impaired president of India, deserves to be told in a format like cinema. But rather than making us feel the character’s journey, Tushar Hiranandani just gives us a surface-level exploration of his life events. Because of the terrific performance of Rajkummar Rao, Srikanth becomes a passable film.

Final Thoughts
What really works is the performance of Rajkummar Rao, who brings in variations so effectively into his performance that even the most cliched lines felt inspiring. 

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