Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya Movie Review: A confused conspiracy lit up by clean comedy
Convoluted plot and uneven pacing notwithstanding, this detective film is elevated by its performances and dialogues
Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya, directed by debutant Swaroop RSJ, is a comedy-thriller set in modern-day Nellore that unfolds at a leisurely pace. It features Naveen Polishetty in the titular role as an amateur private detective, who idolises Sherlock Holmes. Agent, as he is fondly called, sets up a detective agency, FBI, that stands for Fathima Bureau of Investigation, named after his college crush. He works closely with his assistant, Sneha (Shruti Sharma) and takes up petty cases — a small robbery at a temple, tracing milk packet thieves... You get the gist. He desperately waits for a big case to prove himself.
Swaroop spends the first 45 minutes establishing the lead characters and setting up the plot. Thus preparing us for a racy thriller heralded by the interval block scene, when Agent stumbles into a conspiracy involving dead bodies and a motley bunch of characters who may or may not hold clues to the case.
Director: Swaroop RSJ
Cast: Naveen Polishetty, Shruti Sharma, Suhas
The film is a 148-minute cat-and-mouse chase with a few twists and turns that keeps us on the edge of our seats. Naveen Polishetty has a boyish charm which lends a likeableness to his character and he gets the Nellore dialect on point. His body language and his ability to emote through his eyes make it impossible not to root for him despite the film's unconvincing, convoluted and confusing plot. The actor breathes life into his character and certainly has a long way to go. The film stands on his shoulders and he delivers a gripping performance.
Newcomer Shruti Sharma's unintentionally hilarious act as the Agent's assistant leaves us in splits. Her banter with her boss in the first hour reminds us of the hilarious exchanges between Chiranjeevi and Suthivelu from Chantabbai (1986). Suhas too makes an impression as yet another amateur detective.
The conspiracy part works well, but the second half, cutting between Nellore, Ongole, and Arambakam, meanders (much like the film’s long winding title) and makes us feel restless for the most part. The protagonist too perfectly sums up our impatience as he playfully says, "E conspiracy ento, enduku naa life intha pointless ga potondho."
The twisty plotting, however, becomes the film’s biggest strength during the final reveal, which is quite unpredictable. But the director's attention to detail seems unnecessary as it only ends up keeping us less invested in the proceedings. Also, the narrative relies so heavily on Naveen that the other characters fade away into the background.
Sunny Kurapati’s picturesque and stylish cinematography coupled with Mark K Robin's heavy-metal background score deserves a special mention.
Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya is not the kind of film that will mesmerise you or hold you in awe, but it is a far more accomplished film than the average Tollywood offering. And though it isn't completely satisfying, it gives us the pleasure of watching a clean movie that can be viewed with anyone, from kids to older people, on a rainy weekend.