After nearly three excruciating hours of clueless chaos and random action between cops pretending to be crooks and crooks pretending to be cops, my spirit is clobbered and crippled.
I still have no idea what I just saw.
Saaho keeps throwing one moronic scenario after another in such a haphazard manner for the sake of hollow spectacle and bizarre vendetta, the experience is akin to having your head banged against a dozen screens, one playing Batman, another Avengers, still another Mad Max.
On paper, Saaho, which releases in Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam, has all the ingredients of a masala feast.
A hero whose last release has made him invincible in public perception, an assortment of sleek villains embracing wicked with relish and relentless action choreographed by Hollywood technicians. But there’s no head or tails to anything that happens in Saaho.
Absurdity is every masala movie’s prerogative but in absence of imagination, it has zero impact. An entertained audience doesn’t care about loopholes but a bored one sees right into it. And at 174 minutes, 30 seconds, Saaho is a slog.
It would be unfitting to write a traditional review for such erratic filmmaking in whose vaporous brilliance men with resources and capital so blindly invest.
Instead, I’ll share some perplexing things I noticed in the film.
1. A good deal of Saaho is set in a fictional region called Waaji City, along the lines of Gotham abounding with crazy criminals and compromised cops.
Prabhas drives a black customised vehicle and gazes into the skyline from the top of a high rise like a certain Caped Crusader.
But the screenplay’s frequent traveller tendencies and fickle mood makes it impossible to know who’s hoodwinking whom or track down when the action has shifted from Waaji to Mumbai and Austria to Abu Dhabi.
2. Robberies are conducted by sending out weapons and notes to random people in exchange of money and discontinuing trashy TV serials. Not one person objects or bungles up. Clearly, Saaho is a big believer in Abbas-Mustan’s maxim from Ajnabee: ‘Everything is planned’.
3. Prabhas makes his entry in this curious chawl-like complex inhabited by pythons and panthers, people dressed up in national costumes cooking khichdi, doing laundry, running butcher shops and wrestling akhadas. Amidst them is a Lord of the Rings fanboy hanging upside down sporting Gimli’s beard.
4. At a time when women’s safety at workplace is such a big concern, Shraddha Kapoor’s character is constantly hit on by her colleague, Prabhas. She reacts by selling her car to buy him a ring. That’s highway robbery. I mean it’s platinum, not vibranium.
She plays a serious cop and a really incompetent one at that.
What makes it worse is Saaho cannot decide whether it wants to humiliate her for the same or force her into the scenario to distract the hero.
It doesn’t matter if they’re in a stuffy underground basement but a special breeze blows just around her every time Prabhas decides to check her out.
Dressed in silk shirts and super skinny jeans at work and sexy cocktail dresses during undercover missions, where she’s too happy shaking a leg with the hero to a Punjabi club song to realise the thief’s gotten away, Shraddha is perpetually at the receiving end of Saaho’s relentless misogyny and mansplaining.
Shraddha’s blank expressions don’t make it any easy.
5. Prabhas says his own lines. Not only is his Hindi awkward, it’s sleep inducing. His threats sound like lullabies. The man could dub for a sloth.
6. Speaking of dialogues, brace yourself for gems like:
‘Akele gayab ho jaaye toh kidnap lagta hai. Poore family gayab ho jaaye toh vacation lagta hai.’
A text message pops on Shraddha’s phone while she’s singing love duet with Prabhas against Austrian Alps asking, ‘Are you still police?’
A man starts using language ‘Eagle down’ but mid way decides to say it like it is, ‘Ashok is also down.’
Saaho is the height of lazy writing.
7. Director Sujeeth is aiming for a comic book kitsch-meets-slick Hollywood action vibe.
But it’s more comical than crazy.
His hero is smug-faced paper card poster boy storming in and out of danger without any sense of jeopardy. Clumsy VFX magnify his phony heroics. And yet, everyone else around him is a moron who just lets him be and walk away.
8. The villains — a blink and miss Jackie Shroff, a scowling Mahesh Manjrekar, a growling Chunky Pandey, a grimacing Arun Vijay and a confused Neil Nitin Mukesh cut a menacing picture in all that Colaba Causeway street jewellery.
There’s Mandira Bedi too in her hand-woven saris and silver bling.
But between pedicures and escaping gunfire in bulletproof cars, their idiosyncrasies go largely unrealised as the supposedly ruthless faces of an international crime syndicate.
9. For some inexplicable reason, Saaho is hell-bent on staying witless.
In a premise practically screaming for cheesy humour, jokes are strictly off limits. Any time a character dares to titter, he’s instantly gunned down or strangulated.
10. The only thing Saaho is committed to is mindless destruction. An army of Mad Max 3-reminiscent punks emerge from a giant dust cloud to do their bit of pounding in its idiotic climax.
A battle tank appears out of nowhere and crushes two harmless cars at the end of a Jacqueline Fernandez item number for no rhyme or reason.
At one point, there’s a scene of Prabhas and Shraddha Kapoor posing against a pair of statues with their brains set on fire.
That, my fellow Saaho sufferer are of you and I.