Amigos Movie Review: Thrills more as an idea than a film
Entertaining ideas of this Kalyan Ram-starrer are not complemented by the narrative they are packed in
Amigos opens with its climactic scene. We see two bruised Kalyan Rams facing off each other on a dark night. One of them manages to get hold of the gun and shoots the other. The catch here is, we have no clue about the identities of these people. Did the evil Kalyan shoot the good Kalyan or the other way around? We have to sit through—in this case, endure—the whole film to reach there.
Cast: Nandamuri Kalyan Ram, Ashika Ranganath, Brahmaji
Director: Rajender Reddy
The film directed, directed by Rajender Reddy, has a thrilling idea at its core. Siddharth (he’s the hero of the story, let’s call him the ‘good guy’ for better understanding) is fascinated to find his doppelganger. Before we come to this point, we are fed information about doppelgangers twice—during the opening credits and a painfully verbal exposition by a nameless character played by Sapthagari. So when Siddharth comes across a website that lets one find their lookalike, he quickly manages to get in touch with two of his doppelgangers and they plan to meet in Goa. One of them is the clean-shaven, formally dressed Manjunath Hegde (let us call him the ‘meek guy’) and the other is Michael (he is the ‘bad guy’), who walks into the low-angle frame in slow-mo with a cigar. The central conflict in the film and about the film is that Siddarth and Manju fail to recognise the fact that Michael is the bad guy. While the good guy and the meek guy remain oblivious to the bad guy’s cruel intentions, the screenplay spends a good chunk of time on a cliched rom-com angle featuring Ashika Ranganath and a puzzle to get to her heart that you know has been planted to spin a comic moment out of the triple role facet.
It’s only at the halfway mark that the other two characters learn the true side of Michael, whom we have known for all the while as a bad guy on a mission that endangers Siddharth and Manjunath. This is perhaps why we barely feel any shock when this reveal drops. And while Kalyan Ram is neat as the good guy and the meek guy, his performance as Michael renders this evil character caricaturish, with a serious voice and a persistent smug expression that screams ‘evil’. What made the actor intimidating in Bimbisara is clearly missing here.
All the issues with Amigos can be traced to its weak and predictable screenplay. For example, the dog coming to the rescue in the climax of HIT 2 works beautifully because this scene has been set up so subtly somewhere in the first act. In Amigos, however, when information is being given out, we can discern that the only purpose of the scene is to set up another moment, robbing us of the surprise and joy we might have experienced when this lands. Here, a vegetable, yes, you heard that right, is used as a key plot point and we know that this vegetable will serve a purpose later in the film.
Moreover, we barely feel the stakes and the menace of the ‘bad guy’, even when people are killed and important characters are in grave danger because we are never truly invested in them. Sidharth’s father, mother, and sister are as lively as the cardboard stand-ins of the film placed outside the theatre I watched the film in. The mother wants her son to get married, the playful sister pulls pranks on her brother and the father… I don’t even remember; such is the genericness in writing. It is not that the artificiality in writing is restricted to the lighter portions. Even serious angles in the film are treated in a generic way. We are told that NIA (National Intelligence Agency, I assumed) is after Michael and you cannot help but laugh at their inefficiency. In the climax, the bad guy is caught, handcuffed and escorted by armed ‘agents’ in a convoy. He manages to destroy the entire convoy single-handedly. While we, as the audience, are willing to suspend our disbelief, I wish they at least tried to make it believable.
One can only imagine the fun this idea about lookalikes could have spawned. From comedy to thrills, the possibilities are endless. It is not that Amigos doesn't try, just that it leaves you craving the inventiveness the film truly deserved. Films like Amigos are reminders that having an exciting idea doesn’t suffice. One needs an equally strong screenplay to propel the film as a whole narrative.