Salaar review: Film snatches Animal's 'most violent movie of the year' crown - Hindustan Times
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Salaar review: Prabhas makes a stellar comeback, film snatches Animal's 'most violent movie of the year' crown

Deutsche Welle | By
Dec 22, 2023 01:48 PM IST

Salaar review: Prashanth Neel's film has a strong first half but slackens a bit post interval. It stars Prabhas and Prithviraj Sukumaran in the lead.

If you thought Sandeep Reddy Vanga served you the most violent film of the year with Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Animal, wait till you watch Salaar: Part 1 - Ceasefire. Writer-director Prashanth Neel brings two superstars together on the big screen, and weaves magic that is sure to leave you spellbound, and asking for more.

Salaar review: Prabhas' last few film did not perform too well at the box office.
Salaar review: Prabhas' last few film did not perform too well at the box office.

Actually, I found a common chord between Animal and Salaar. While the former is about an obsessed son who'd go to any extent and kill anybody who tries to harm his father, Salaar has friendship at its core. Deva (Prabhas) will not spare a single soul who tries to touch his childhood friend Vardha (Prithviraj Sukumaran). How tables turn and the besties turn arch rivals is what Salaar is all about. But take this warning: It's a bloody watch, quite literally. I can't remember the last time I watched so much blood smeared all over the screen. So, if you can't stand too much gore and blood, think before you book your tickets.

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The 3-hour-long saga starts in 1985 where Deva and Vardha are inseparable and have got each other's back in good and the bad times. Deva fights a seasoned wrestler as a challenge to get Vardha his nathooni (nose ring that the clan wears) back from his stepbrother. Vardha soon returns the favour and saves Deva's mother (Easwari Rao) from his father's men, and in return, he sacrifices a major part of the territory his clan owns. And on this night, Deva, along with his mother, leaves that villages and vanishes.

Switch to 2017, Deva and his mother are living in a remote village in Assam and he's working in coal mines. Through some hazy flashbacks, the film throws hints that something major had happened a few years ago, after which Deva's mother had sworn him to never touch a weapon — she creates panic even when he holds a plastic knife to cut a birthday cake. Meanwhile, Aadhya Krishnakanth (Shruti Hassan) comes to India and her life is in danger for reasons still unclear to me. To save her from the baddies, Deva's mother frees him from the promise, and there he goes — beating up some 50-odd men and breaking their bones like a pro. What follows are multiple action sequences, and each gets better than the earlier one.

There are high-end weapons, machine guns, missiles, and when there's nothing modern, you see the heroes slaughtering men with axes, sword and other sharp objects. Basically, all we see for most part of the film is blood splashing in slow-mo. I have to mention here how in the middle of a fight, Prabhas lights up a cigarette and the next moments, with full swag, wears his glasses on. Well, this is something so trademark of directors from down South to make their leading men look larger-than-life and stylish like nobody's business.

Prithviraj Sukumaran in Salaar.
Prithviraj Sukumaran in Salaar.

The second half runs in flashback where we are told Deva and Vardha's story after 25 years and how they turned against each other. I liked how Neel ingests such subtle humour in a deadly scene where his leading men are fighting 100 blood-thirsty drugged men. Or in another scene, just before Deva chops off a senior leader's head, he tells the men around - 'Please, I kindly request'. This clever writing from Sandeep Reddy Bandla, Hanumaan Choudary and Dr. Suri adds some breathing space in the otherwise fast-paced screenplay. As for Neel's story, it has way too many twists and turns for you to even blink peacefully. Salaar calls for your full attention. While the first half effortlessly builds momentum and keeps you hooked, the second half does go slightly downhill, appears a tad stretched with some complex scenes, which could have been easily edited to bring down the runtime by at least 20 minutes.

Nevertheless, Salaar's intriguing story is only enhanced by extremely layered characters who deliver such nuanced performance. Prabhas, after a string of flops with Saaho, Radhe Shyam and Adipurush, finally has made a solid comeback. Salaar not only gives him ample scope to prove his footing as the hero with swag and acting chops, but also, his character arc takes the story forward in manner that he is shouldering the film on his shoulder for most part. He's gritty, strong, barely smiles and with those bulging muscles and eyes, he is a delight to watch. Prithviraj, in a parallel lead, complements Prabhas so well. He is a fine blend of gentle and deadly as required. Their scenes together are the film's highlight. Even the climax sequence with Vardha's sister Radha Rama Mannar (Sriya Reddy), his father Raja Mannar (Jagapathi Babu) is so wholesome that I wished it lasted a bit longer. Though Salaar: Part 1 — Ceasefire doesn't have any fight sequence between Prabhas and Prithviraj yet, the next part, announced at the end, would certainly leave fans waiting with baited breath to see the superstars fight it out on screen.

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