Acharya Movie Review: Chiru, Charan's screen presence cannot save this bland actioner
The good intentions don't translate into a gripping narrative
Acharya has been marketed as a grand multi-starrer that brings together Chiranjeevi and his son Ram Charan in the lead. Koratala Siva is a filmmaker who tells stories through complex characters and packs them with bold insights on social issues. In his interviews leading up to the release of Acharya, Siva repeatedly said that it's not difficult to write a story for a big star like Chiranjeevi and he played it safe this time. He also stated that the social messages in his films are delivered through entertainment. I walked into the theatre strictly with these clear expectations, but the film was clearly underwhelming! It's a strange film that takes you on a slow and shaky ride and by the time you reach the destination, you are bound to feel tired.
Cast: Chiranjeevi, Ram Charan, Pooja Hegde
Director: Koratala Siva
The film begins with the voice-over by Mahesh Babu, narrating the back story of an 800-year-old Siddhavanam forest, which is home to yogis and sadhus. When demons began to attack these people, the Goddess manifested on earth at Padaghattam, a 100-family hamlet near a temple town called Dharmasthali. The people of Padaghattam are known for their dharma and ayurvedic prowess. Dharmasthali is reeling under the evil clutches of its municipal chairman Basava (Sonu Sood). He is aided by a ruthless businessman Rathore (Jisshu Sengupta), who wants to take over Siddhavanam for illegal mining. A stranger named Acharya (Chiranjeevi) steps into the temple town to end the anarchy of Basava and his henchmen. Who is Acharya and how is he connected to the lives of these people form the crux of the film.
Predictable from the start to finish, the film unfolds at an excruciatingly slow pace and throws up no surprises. You even see the twist in the penultimate scene coming way ahead. The protagonist's journey to save the people is dealt with so ordinarily that we can't help wondering if the director was as uninterested in the proceedings as we are! The good intentions don't translate into a gripping narrative.
As a director, Koratala Siva has failed to strike a chord and has come up with some bland, unimaginative writing. It's depressing to think that he would use Chiranjeevi's star image to make such a lacklustre film. It also gives us a feeling that the film was made to fit all the cliches and tropes of the 1980s.
The second half is where Ram Charan is introduced as Siddha, a gurukul student, and the film begins to take the thriller route. The director here unravels the back story that connects the characters of Siddha and Acharya. Their first meeting in the forest, Bhale Bhale Banjara song, and the emotional presage to the climax are the highlights of the film. Contrasting to the rest of the film, it was enjoyable to see the father-son combo on screen and the film rests entirely on their shoulders.
With his incredible screen presence, Chiranjeevi delivers a mature performance in a role that requires restraint and subtlety. He shows his style and grace in the songs and is equally striking in the emotional and action sequences. On the flip side, the VFX sequence showing a young Chiranjeevi looks embarrassingly amateurish.
If you thought Charan is brilliant in RRR, wait till you watch Acharya. He is powerful and arresting as Siddha. Though he has limited screen space, he clearly steals the show.
Pooja Hegde looks beautiful on screen, but she made little impact. Tanikella Bharani and Ajay make their presence felt in crucial roles, while Nasser was seen in a cameo. Sonu Sood is reduced to a mere caricature and Jisshu Sengupta is just about okay in a role that doesn't give him scope to perform.
Production designer Suresh Selvarajan wonderfully creates the gorgeous Dharmasthali and Padaghattam locales, while S Thirunavukkarasu adeptly captures them with his lens. Even the Siddhavanam forest has a stark beauty. Mani Sharma's music and background score are a big letdown and don't provide any impetus to the narrative.
The story of Acharya neither has the depth, nor the ability to woo the viewers. It could have worked had it been packaged better with contemporary, imaginative writing.