Saaho came out amidst mammoth expectations & it had everything going for it ; a superstar in the form of his life, a production house with deep & generous pockets, a supremely talented cast & crew and most importantly, the entire country was waiting with bated breath to watch this film which was touted as India’s answer to major Hollywood franchises. so let’s see how it fared.
-The true mark of a genius lies in explaining even the most complicated of things in the simplest of manner & not the other way around. the director/writer sujeeth commits the gravest sin that could be committed by a film maker, in order to appear smarter than it deserves, he sacrificed the emotional connectivity of the story by not giving us anything to care about the lead characters in the film and it also didn’t help that Prabhas looked very uncomfortable on the screen especially in the first half & shradhha kapoor must be the most dumbest & gullible cop ever, so obviously we couldn’t care much about all the “stunts” Prabhas does in the film because we’re not emotionally invested in him or shraddha kapoor or in their half-baked “love story”.
The other major issue that the audience will have i.r.t to this film is that the twists in this movie appear forced & convoluted, now allow me to tell you why you feel that way-let’s begin with reasons why these “twists’ appear forced,”The twist” is director/writer Sujeeth’s favorite & his most over used narrative device, a “twist” in the story should do either of these things
- should relieve the tension built up by a mystery
- should change the status quo of the story or a character
- increase the stakes for the lead character/other characters
- these twists shouldn’t be random as in they shouldn’t appear out of the blue
- they should be used judiciously
Now let’s study each one of the above implications and how this movie fails at it & therefore makes these twists appear forced..
1) – “should relieve the tension built up by a mystery”- one of the many stupid twists in the film is that Devraj is the one who kills Roy . the director could’ve used that death to induce a sense of intrigue and mystery & then could’ve relieved that intrigue by the twist reveal, but what do we get?? not only do we not get any sense of mystery about such main characters death but we have the character of Devraj himself literally telling that he’s the one who’s done the deed and that too after 2 or 3 scenes after Roy’s death, that’s why we didn’t care about that twist because we weren’t given anything to care about be it in the first place, be it in the form of Roy’s character or the mystery surrounding his death. take another stupid twist where Shradhha Kapoor comes back to Prabhas in the second half and we’re immediately told that she didn’t actually come back but she’s still working undercover. but again, repeating the same mistake the director forgoes this opportunity to use this as an element of suspense by immediately giving us a stupid song and in the course of which Shradhha switches her loyalties back to Prabhas.
2) “change the status quo of the proceedings” – another stupid” twist” is the one involving the real Ashok Chakravarti and David where Ashok coerces David to co-operate with him using David’s family as leverage but LITERALLY in the next scene Saaho tells Ashok that he made up David’s family. So what did Saaho achieve by fooling Ashok to believe that David has a family? what did this twist do to change the story or the proceedings? NOTHING.
3) “increase the stakes for the lead character/other characters”- the reason why Prabhas does whatever he does in the film is to avenge his father but that twist is revealed in the denouement , so by the time we understand what the stakes are for Prabhas, it’s already too late for us to invest in his antics and this is the movie’s biggest flaw and because of this we don’t invest in the character of Saaho . the audience can’t establish an emotional connect with a character in the hindsight, it needs to happen in real time as they’re watching the movie. the director couldn’t reveal Prabhas’s lineage earlier as it would relegate this film to a revenge drama so he thought he was being clever by delaying the reveal but it backfired & turned the character of Saaho into a lifeless caricature.
4) “these twists shouldn’t be random – what is up with Mandira Bedi’s random u-turn? the director used her characters betrayal only to show us who Saaho really was, not that it was a bad move but it was executed horribly, it appeared so late in the movie and that too with out even a remote hint that there might be a traitor amongst Vishwak’s inner circles . so when Kalki’s “twist” was revealed, it appeared random and forced & i’m left scratching my head about the assault on Kalki’s motorcade in Mumbai. who’ve done it? is it Devaraj? why would he? both he & Kalki were in cahoots, was it Vishwak? he didn’t even know about Kalki’s betrayal, so who staged that assault? only the movie gods know the answer to that question.
5) “they should be used judiciously” – the director goes to town in using twists as a narrative device there by negating it’s effects & it lead to the audience not believing or investing in any of the proceedings of the film because they thought “what’s the point? most of it will turn out to be a ploy or a red herring” thereby losing their interest.
Now that we have seen why the “twists” appear forced, let’s see why they appear convoluted, they appear convoluted because these twists seem too elaborate and far fetched even by movie standards. for example when the audience are told Prabhas is the thief, the audience will immediately try to piece back all the info that was given to them to make sense of that twist and what will they see?
They will see that Prabhas’s plan was to commit a heist in the beginning to create a sense of panic in Mumbai police so that they will appoint an under cover officer so that Prabhas can impersonate him and gain access into the police force & frame the real undercover officer for the theft of black box all the while hoping that none of the freaking police oust him as an impostor. But in the second half we’re told that this whole “Black box” MacGuffin was a ploy by vishwak & Saaho all along, so why on God’s green earth would Saaho plant the box himself & again goes through the pain of stealing it? He already knew who his fathers killers were, Vishwak says that he came up with the ploy of Black Box to lure in Devraj & Co. If that’s the case he could’ve simply set this gambit in Waji city itself , why go to Mumbai? It’s my belief that Sujeeth wanted to play with the idea of a cop turning out to be the robber and wrote the first half around this point & made up everything as he went along with out knowing how this connects to the rest of the story. That’s why the second half appears even more disjointed & the audience realized that the entire first half of the film was absolutely pointless.
Another reason why the movie is convoluted is the whole sub-plot of “Karana” (desert) city, it appears shoe-horned & it’s there only to stage the climactic fight.
The other irritating aspects of this film are the presence of many redundant scenes,
No.1) The scene where there is this massive shootout involving Prabahs & Shradhha in the second half, the director was clearly “inspired” by Mr & Mrs Smith & Shoot’em up, that’s besides the point but look how pointless that whole scene is, immediately after that massive shoot out, when they finally get to Prabhas, they don’t kill him but offer him a deal to work for them, WHAT!! if all they freaking wanted is to hire him then why the heck did they try to kill him in the first place?
No.2) scene where Vishwak tells Devraj that Saaho offered him the black box in exchange for saving Amrita, but in the end it’s revealed that Vishwank & Saaho were in this together from the beginning, so Vishwak would’ve saved Amritha anyways but the director wanted to squeeze a “twist” out of this.
No.3) The scene in which Vishwak closes his eyes and we’re shown an incident from his “childhood” but later on it’s revealed that it wasn’t his but Saaho’s childhood that we’ve witnessed, now why on Earth would Vishwak reminisce about Saaho’s childhood ? he wouldn’t right? then why did the director include this bizarre scene? he did that just as a misdirection to further establish the lie that Vishwak is Roy’s son but that is not misdirection, especially if that scene is shown from Vishwak’s perspective because he knows that he isn’t Roy’s son, it’s cheating. you can fool the audience but you should never cheat them.
It’s not that this movie got everything wrong, look at how this movie was mounted, many at instance i was left awestruck at the sheer scale of the production and the scale of the action scenes (except in certain scenes and those fake abs of Prabhas), this is one of the most gorgeous main stream movies to ever come out of our country and it alsoThe one sub plot which this movie got right was the one involving Supreeth & how it links Prabhas to the Lal building murder.
What baffles me is the lack of oversight by the producers in relation to the script, now i’m not privy to the inside details of the production but the writing was on the wall, the script was absolutely incoherent, many scenes lacked logic and the movie was stitched together in a haphazard way, few rewrites and reshoots and another round at the editing table could’ve done wonders but as usual the makers didn’t want to invest in a quality writer and look where it landed them.
Like many of my fellow proud Telugites I was eagerly looking forward to enjoy our magnum opus “Saaho” on the biggest screen possible and after having seen it, it really saddens me to say that this film was a huge letdown. This film could’ve changed the game for Telugu film industry forever, if Arjun Reddy gave the new & upcoming writer/directors the courage to come up with bold new ideas, Saaho could’ve given the producers to trust the very same new & upcoming writer/directors who come to them with big ideas IF they could’ve come up with an intelligible & smart scripts but having seen the incoherent mess that is Saaho I don’t think producers would risk their money on big & new ideas & add to that “Ismart Shankar” performing well at B.O ,i’m afraid that producers would pump all their money into the regular insipid pot boilers to make a quick buck , I can only hope that it wouldn’t be the case.