Banner: RRR Motion Pictures & Vaaraahi Chalana Chitram
Cast: Sudeep, Suniel Shetty, Aakanksha Singh, Sushant Singh, Kabir Duhan Singh, Avinash, Sharath Lohitashwa, Appanna, and others
Music: Arjun Janya
Cinematography: Karunakara A
Action: Ram Lakshman, A Vijay
Producer: Swapna Krishna
Written and Direction: Krishna
Release date: Sep 12, 2019
‘Eega’ fame Sudeep starrer ‘Pahilwan’ is one of the most awaited films of this year. After impressing the audience with the trailer, the multi-lingual movie hit the screens today.
Sarkar (Suniel Shetty) raises an orphan Krishna and makes him a good wrestler. Krishna (Sudeep) is being trained to win the national championships.
Like Sarkar, he vows to be a bachelor but his heartbeat gets skipped when he sees Rukmini (Aakanksha Singh), who is the daughter of a rich businessman.
Sarkar gives a promise to Rukmini’s father that he will make Krishna not to disturb her.
Krishna beating up local leader Rana (Sushanth Singh) in a regional-level wrestling competition and marrying Rukmini leads to a huge rift with Sarkar.
The rest of the movie is how Krishna wins the championship and regains his bond with father-figure Sarkar.
Sudeep as Pahilwaan Krishna is impressive. He has that body of a wrestler and his macho acting has worked well as per his characterization. However, this is a typical mass role that offers nothing new.
Erstwhile Bollywood hero Suniel Shetty is believable in the role of a guiding force to Sudeep.
Aakanksha Singh as the lead actress, Sushant Singh as a villain Raja Rana Pratap Varma and Kabir Duhan Singh as wrestler Tony have played clichéd roles in a corny manner.
The film is made with rich production values for a Kannada production. Largely set in a village, the movie mostly focused on wrestling fights, which are shot well.
‘Kanne Pichuka’ is the only notable song. The screenplay is predictable.
Yawning first half
Boring romantic thread
Old style narration
After winning the hearts of the Telugu audiences as an antagonist in Rajamouli’s ‘Eega’, Kannada superstar Sudeep has become a well-known face here.
‘Pahilwaan’ is the first pan-India movie for him. Sudeep is one of fittest male stars in India and the story of a wrestler is apt for him.
Director Krishna has done his homework right as per as picking up the characterization of a wrestler for Sudeep but he has erred in writing the engaging screenplay.
The scenes and situations may appeal to the core Kannada fan base of Sudeep but when the film is pitched as a Pan-India movie, the writing department and the director should have come up with a better romantic thread as well as emotional sequences that would connect to the larger audiences.
Devoting the entire first half to establish the bond between Suniel Shetty, Sudeep with hackneyed situations and weaving an outdated romantic track between Sudeep and Aakanksha has spoiled the interest.
Luckily, the film gets its real momentum after the interval when the emotional gulf happens between Sudeep and Suniel Shetty.
The wrestling fights in the later portion area also very appealing since the emotional angle is added here unlike in the first half.
The first half gives us the impression that the movie is all about winning the championship but it soon turns into a serious drama with a social message. This has changed the overall impact of the movie for good.
Before appreciating the final portions, you have to bear all the lousy scenes in the beginning and outdated comic situations.
The film eventually becomes a ‘Bhadrachalam’ meets ‘Sultan’ meets ‘Kick’. Nevertheless, it has worked to an extent in the penultimate portions.
“Pahilwaan” is a film targeted for mass audiences and it is filled with such sequences that are good. But the rest of the drama is full of formulaic.
On the whole, “Pahilwaan” is a mishmash of several Telugu and Hindi movies in the backdrop of wrestling. This is strictly for mass audiences.
Bottom-line: Pahilwan Punch