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Komaram Puli

Actors: Pawan Kalyan, Nikesha Patel, Manoj Bajpai
Genre: Action Drama
Rating: 2/5

Paari poPovaa? Nee karma. S J Suryah apparently also approached Bollywood actors before finalizing on Pawan Kalyan. Puli is once-in-a-decade type of a movie which has nothing good going for it, faces distinct hurdles and some shamefully late realization by the stakeholders that its not a good project to be associated with, and due to obligations, manage to bail it out before an unforgiving audience which has not spared the best. Mithun Chakraborty could have done it and raked in more moolah than Pawan Kalyan.

The plot of Komaram Puli has been penned by S J Suryah. Yes the same guy responsible for Pawan Kalyan’s career high-point Khushi. Unless you knew already, you are welcome. Puli (Pawan Kalyan), a Police Officer in AP saves the Indian Prime Minister while on a trip abroad from 8 suicide bombers, single-handedly since local intelligence doesn’t give a shit about a foreign VVIP's security (apparently). It's anyone guess that a felicitation function follows for Puli. But it's not even the Editor's guess that, tortured by Puli’s lecture on society’s problems and duties that a Police Officer must perform, the PM grants Puli his wish to head a semi-autonomous agency functioning within State Police (!) that has access to NASA-level resources to solve criminal cases. Puli confused me by doubling as a activist more than a Police officer, always lecturing on humanity, responsibilities, in the media glare perennially, much more than his leadership. Puli, who owns a palatial home overlooking the entire city of Hyderabad, uses his 'connections' with the PM to set up telephone booth-hotlines for the common man to call Puli’s team in case a problem arises that won’t be solved through slacking police officers. The 'hotline' functions with a 1 Rupee coin (or similar) only, though - make your own jokes.

Solving issues like bribery, while also lecturing police officers who procrastinate, Puli chances upon the case of a missing Police Officer Hussain, which leads him to a rich industrialist Al Saleem (Manoj Bajpai). It’s eventually revealed Al Saleem is an affiliate of a most-wanted criminal by name Nixon. There’s some flashback involving his mother (Saranya) whose husband is killed by Saleem in the past, which Puli does not know of. In the interim there’s the love angle; random TV viewer Madhu (Nikesha Patel) falls in love with him and eventually manages to marry him. While the viewer is made overwhelmed with Star Trek grade of events, some innocent people characters are killed, and it’s revealed that Nixon was a crucial member of Puli’s team right from its genesis, and some photos lead to visual proof of alliance between Nixon and Saleem. Puli’s mother and wife are held hostage by Saleem in hope that Puli would let go of this case. With a hidden cam, Puli relays his entire conversation with Saleem who cynically recaps all criminal acts he has done so far including the murder of his dad and the murder attempt on the PM. Cut to the chase, final scene, Puli rips apart the right leg of Saleem with his bare hands. 

Pawan Kalyan lapped up a script that most actors refused, possibly because it had many, many bhashanamulu, potentially trying to pave his way with the masses for an ensuing political career if Chiranjeevi’s PRP party were to see any success. Objectively speaking, action is PK’s forte and he has shined amazingly well with his stunts, except for scenes where almost became Spiderman jumping building terraces multiple yards away, running on terraces for kilometers, hanging upside down on cranes, and thwarting attacks on a car carrying the PM in Malaysia. Pawan looks fit, but a lot of contribution that Pawan brought to Puli was potentially based on the script. Pawan is known for his signature (typecast, if you will) cool-guy image with a natural flair for action and good fashion sense. His dialogue delivery is political-speech like (remindful of Sai Kumar many a time) and a total thumbs down. PK was never a great dancer anyway, but an analogy for his inability and discomfort is that of a shy audience member pulled onto stage in a jiffy to join an already-performing dance troupe. For a public image that PK carries and characters PK does well, the characterization is a total mismatch. Fundamentally, PK does not pull it off.

As happens to most female leads in Indian cinema, Saranya, who is past her prime,  plays mother to an actor she could have potentially acted opposite to. Too much hamming in Puli, her performance was much better in Nayagan (1987). Nikesha Patel’s got some skimpy clothing going on and is the lead in now-proverbial nadumu scene for a PK starrer. Manoj Bajpai as the imbalanced Al Saleem is impeccable. His freaky mood swings, neurotic behavior peppered with irritation and anger simply based on others’ mannerisms more than what they say, is simply worth noticing. Although, Manoj too also fell prey to the typecast style statement of Tollywood villains of this millennium – living abroad travelling in limos, or surrounded by calendar models on yachts, in a white suit, white hair held back by hairspray and oversized goggles which are probably picked off Sultan Bazaar in Hyderabad. The rant is endless. Ali is probably PK’s lucky charm, but a film like Puli does not deserve to be saved.

Majority of plastic awards for Puli must go to  S J Suryah, first for spawning a lousy script; then for being a screenwriter and effectively negating the meaning of screenplay; and most of all, for underperforming his most important duty, that of a Director. The biggest loser though, is the plot which cascades into a bad screenplay. Lot of untimed events, irrelevant sequences, superfluous dialogue, and overacting characters seal the coffin perfectly. Unintentionally funny scenes will keep you entertained till no end. It’s hard to perceive that a profoundly conceptualized film like Khushi and a dud like Puli have been pulled together by the same person.

Cinematography by Binod Pradhan is better in non-action sequences. Action sequences are well-crafted in the second half of the movie. VFX, right in the first scene (an action scene) are rib-tickling if not gripping, and Balayya-esque to be precise. Editing by V T Vijayan cannot be faulted with, simply given his repertoire. I would have wanted to be in the same room as Vijayan when he took first look at this defective piece of work. One scene where I would expect justice is when Madhu is lying down on a living-room table at home with blood oozing from her cut-throat and everyone’s sitting around her. Puli does not inquire if medical help was sought, instead falls for the dubious act, and ties the mangalsootram around her neck to call her Mrs. Puli. Very sad. Music by A R Rahman is alright, as usual very different from his other compositions, but not exceptional. Music rating – 3/5.

Why 2/5:
There are only negatives to talk about, right from background support to acting. Pawan Kalyan’s performance is inconsistent, but the second half is better, more watchable and more remindful of masala cinema of the recent past. Could go lower on the rating, but there are some commendable elements – which are lost in the magnanimity of flaws above. 

Verdict: If you have reached this point, then one, either you really like reading my reviews, or two, you really are expecting a lot from this movie irrespective of word on the street. If former, I heart you. If latter, God cannot save you, too. 

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