Nani’s Gangleader: Leads to nowhere
Directed by Vikram K Kumar
Screenplay by Mukund Panday, Darling Swamy, and Vikram K Kumar
Cast: Nani, Vennela Kishore, Lakshmi, Kartikeya Gummakonda, Anish Kuruvilla, Priyanka Arulmohan, Saranya Ponvannan, Priyadarshi, and Satya
Music by Anirudh Ravichander
Cinematography by Miroslaw Brozek
Editing by Navin Nooli
We see roads leading to somewhere or the other destination all the time. If a road ends then we either take a U-turn or right or left turn to join another road. Vikram K Kumar’s screenplay in Manam, 13B, Ishq, 24 and Hello feels like those roads, they lead to a destination. But Gangleader with an interesting gang goes nowhere and ends in a ghastly abstract way. You feel like you missed a turn that you should have taken 2 hours ago in 2:30 hours long ride because you go nowhere.
This movie from Vikram feels like his version of Kurukshetram War with all Pandavas becoming women, completing a life circle and Krishna guiding them to attain their revenge against Kauravas. But he tried to make Shakuni and Duryodhana the same person and there the subject derailed. At Interval point, when he made the race car look like Krishna Radham, I got excited that Vikram will come up with something different and novel, even though movie up to that point only touched on clichés.
We get an Old Woman, Lakshmi, who is as wise as Dharmaraju/Yudhistir and motivated by revenge to the core like the person in the epic. Dharmaraju, when he thought revenge could lead to the entire family’s collapse with the death of people he loves and respect, he decided to make a deal to avoid all that. But Krishna did not let it happen so, and Vikram followed that principle here. Arjun and Krishna became almost inseparable as friends and they are even called Nara-Narayanulu, so he made it a love story in his film, between female, Priya Arul Mohan, and male, Nani. Bheema/Vrukodhara was a cook and Saranya Ponvannan is given the same characteristic.
As he said in my interview, he doesn’t want to discard the godly involvement in his stories and he tries to use as much information from epics as he can. But if we have to dig deep to understand such touches that are unique to Vikram, then we have to say, he wasn’t in his best of form. Gang leader suffers due to that. The villain becomes generic, the hero becomes as clever and manipulative as Krishna and the cat & mouse games between them don’t become as interesting as Shakuni vs Krishna but become more & more reductive to set pieces that could have been explored better.
Shakuni has a reason for bringing Kauravas to war and then look to kill them, stain the family might but here a thief kills his mates and then, lives in fear. Does this clever and talented guy, really need to become a thief? What opportunities did he loose to take up this act? How can someone just turn up with 150 crores and start a race club to become a racer in India, when 300 crores are stolen, without raising some eyebrows from police and ED? Racing scene is much better in Europe than in India, so how come we see a world-class racer just running around in Hyderabad, while the world stage awaits him? Well, in Vikram’s world these questions don’t exist. If they did, the villain would have been stronger and the hero would have become even stronger.
We just get some clever touches to regular revenge drama. We get a building that is under construction for 16 months without any reason. We get a solution to the question, still not yet asked and then the question. For example, we get to see Nani doing everything at breakneck speed and thinking faster like a brilliant person but then, he is a writer who just copies films. If a writer who writes English films as his stories is able to think 10 steps ahead of a brilliant, smart and intelligent villain, one has to offer us a clear explanation of his transition or at least establish that he is brilliant but lazy like in Ladies Tailor.
Instead, we only get scenes that go nowhere. The message that leads nowhere. Cinematic liberties that go nowhere. A love story that never rises from being generic. A motive that doesn’t really strongly connect us with characters. And a screenplay that gets predictable with every scene. Nani, Lakshmi, and Saranya save the movie from being a complete bore while Kartikeya Gummakonda is just clueless.
Technically too this is Vikram K Kumar‘s weakest film by far. On the whole, with a potential story that could have been interesting like Michael Madana Kama Raju, Apoorva Sahodarulu with twists leading to more fun & intrigue we get a clichéd screenplay with lazy execution. Manam might be the peak of Vikram’s abilities but we hope that he climbs again to the peak from this valley as this is him disserving his own talent than someone else forcing him to do so.