Tollywood never tires of making cliched plots – each hero wants to prove he can dance, he can fight, he can romance and still look good in sentimental scenes while getting the laughs and the claps from audience for outrageous dialogues. But a door for bringing in fresh stories and credible treatment keeps getting pushed every now and then. Krishna Vijay is one such debut director who came up with a winning plot that has a slow pick up, a steady build-out, a dabanng of an interval block and a slithering climax that beats your imagination. Nara Rohit is the hero who at least tries something different in an industry where everybody wants to do formulaic action. “Asura” is a good story to begin with – about an honest and a large-hearted Jailor Dharma (Rohit) of Rajahmundry Central Jail whose job is to ensure the inmates spell no trouble in serving the sentence. He is a protege of a Superintendent who believes in the same sincerity and integrity. He is also in love with Priya Banerjee (a pretty faced debutante) and is about to marry her.
Life moves smoothly for the jailor until a notrious diamond smuggler Madhu enters Rajahmundry Jail as a convict who has to serve the last few days in prison before getting hanged. Dharma is wary of the criminal record of Madhu and allocates “D” block – the cell reserved for the most condemned criminals. Meanwhile, Madhu’s petition to the President of India gets rejected and the day of hanging is round the corner. Three key personnel who have to oversee the operation goes right prepare for the D-day – the magistrate, the jailor and the hangman. The person to be hanged, Madhu, however is cool and jibes that he will go scot-free. Here comes a twist – where elements connected to the criminal outside of the prison cast their net on the three key personnel to ensure the hanging never takes place. And then the story, sorry will not give away anything, just builds up to an amazing crescendo and the climax that is a blinder. Will he get hanged? Will the jailor get suspended? Who has the last laugh? These questions linger on throughout the second half until the story comes to a smooth finish with a plot that is bigger than what is plotted inside the prison.
At a time when the audience is getting vexed with boring plots and insipid story-telling, Krishna Vijay attempts something different that is going to be talked about for a while. How many heroes have the guts to play an unglamorous role of a Jailor? How many have the guts to cast a bevy of characters mostly from the TV Channel segment? And how many can finish off telling a good story with five songs and few stunts in all of 126 minutes? “Asura” needs to be applauded for making a good experiment decent enough to make it watchable except a bit of tardiness in the first half. The second half is racier than the first and all elements of screenplay, background score by Sai Karthik, and dialogues and editing uplift the experience to give us a new feel. If only more people think like the makers of this film, Tollywood’s better days may not be far off.
The only thing that can be held against the director is the liberty taken in some procedures of hanging but in the spirit of the story that moves forward, they were quintessential for the main plot. Nara Rohit is getting fat but his brain is working smarter than most of the heroes in Tollywood who are herd-headed in the other direction. Sai Karthik scores good songs and impressive RR. Priya Banerjee is the new Bengali lass who does a good job. The villains look terrific and did a commendable job.
It is the most thrilling film of the year and I recommend it whole-heartedly.
(Reviewed by Sridhar.S)