Bellamkonda Sreenivas’s supernatural thriller, Saakshyam starts off on a promising note, as ruthless, cruel and sycophant Munuswamy (Jagapati Babu), along with his three brothers, kills the entire family of Raju (Sarath Kumar), except for a kid, in grisly fashion and destroys all the evidence. But as the voiceover of Prakash Raj says, when there is no evidence, nature turns out to be the witness and nobody can escape karma.
As we wait for a riveting revenge drama to unfold, the story neither tries to get serious nor takes the ironic route entirely. Inventive concepts don’t always translate into intriguing films. Director Sriwass, known for his power-packed action entertainers, begins with a unique premise laden with emotional potential, but he falters in execution and the film doesn't offer us the thrilling experience we think we're in for. The problem is Sriwass hasn't been able to escape genre conventions, and so, falls into the trap of commercial cinema with poor placement of songs, plenty of violence, cringe-worthy melodrama and regressive romantic sequences.
Cast: Bellamkonda Sreenivas, Pooja Hegde, Jagapati Babu, Rao Ramesh
The director invests too heavily in Bellamkonda Sreenivas’s (seen as Vishwa, a video game director) macho image. It takes up the entire first half before we finally get to the interesting part where the protagonist begins eliminating the brothers of Munuswamy, one after another, because of a chain of connected events developed for a video game. However, while the first reveal is exciting, the ones that follow are predictable.
The writing here is never consistent. There's also confusion when the director uses the word destiny when what he is really talking about is karma and the elements of nature, namely earth, wind, water, fire and space. The film isn’t all dialogue, but there’s some disconnect between the story and the action.
While not an exceptional film by any means, by exploiting a novel idea with a talented cast, including the likes of Rao Ramesh, Jagapathi Babu, Pavitra Lokesh and Vennela Kishore, the director does manage to bring some substance and impact to the core idea. The visuals of Munuswamy cutting off the arms of a girl, orphan kids dying in the soil, and so forth, are scary.
Bellamkonda is believable with his graceful, restrained performance. Pooja Hegde gets more screen time in this film compared to her last outing DJ and she does a good job. There are laughs to be had from her character, Soundarya Lahari, who gets introduced as a god-woman, moralising on culture and philosophising on life. One of her devotees even jokes that she is yet to make her television debut. Jagapati Babu makes a menacing Munuswamy, and he is aided well by Ravi Kishan and Ashutosh Rana. The rest of the cast barely make an impact.
Sriwass fails to bring all the elements together, and while the film has plenty of promise, it still lacks a certain slickness. A dose of reality would have brought this subject to life. Watch this film if you have nothing else to do.