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NBK Lion Movie Review - One-lion roar

'Lion' is Balakrishna-isms galore. You never know when Balakrishna will be projected as Lord Krishna himself and seen
breaking the earthen pot to the panegyric of Hare Rama Hare Krishna fellows and when he will lose his volatile cool only to wax eloquent on Krishnadevaraya!
He is Telugu patriot and CBI patriot rolled into one. He is trigger-happy and even jungle justice-happy!
In a scene, he turns on the Axe effect and goes on to say that those in power would stand like an Eiffel Tower and those on the losing side should bend like a refill.
He can appear from nowhere, blazing his way through the architectural glass, and send shivers down the spine of the Chief Minister when he least expects him.
That is nothing. With a comedian sidekick in tandem, he can pull wool over the eyes of the CM's security personnel and,
well, let us not give away the earth-shaking spoiler.

In making an action film on the strength of a formulaic story, Satyadev flounders when it comes to treatment.
It's a one-lion roar and so there are one too many punchlines. Sometimes they border on the too-too-much.
But it is not about pedestrian 'punches' alone, as there is more to it.
The story sequencing helps and when the first twist is revealed, it is 'temper lechuddi' time.
(In the hands of a Boyapati, the scene would have been high on sentimental content by virtue of the mother's wailing. But this is not elevated well here).

The film begins with a miserably weak Balayya raising from the dead (almost) in a mortuary ward.
He goes on to identity himself as Bose while his parents (Jaya Sudha and Chandra Mohan in cameo roles) call him Godse.
In Hyderabad, he is at a loss to connect with his past as the CEO of a company.
He accidentally bumps into Trisha and beseeches her to accept him. Does he remember his past correctly?
Is there an identity crisis which he must get over? Curtains are raised for intrigues and a half-baked political drama as the flashback strikes in the second half.

The paradox is that the first half which doesn't reveal the mystery looks stretched (at approximately 120 minutes)
while the second half which is not very suspense-filled once the political machination becomes known is more interesting.
Armed with creativity (euphemism for creative license), Satyadev unleashes a hot-tempered CBI joint director with an alleged "control over others' dreams" (a punchline, nothing earnest about it),
making Dhuli (Pradeep Rawat in a cameo, playing a filthy rich rascal with three Chief Ministers under his control) shake during a raid,
delivers as many punchlines as the appetite demands and even shoots him down directly.

Prakash Raj gets to play a major role and as the anti-hero, he has to outwit the cunning CBI man.
The way the villain is projected is perfunctory and one feels some intelligence was applied in portraying the machinations of a power-wielder.

Balayya as a big-time hero is writ all over. He attacks like a thunderbolt (thanks to good action choreography.
The fight in the forest involving tribal lookalikes is a case in point), delivers thunderous dialogues in his characteristic style,
jives like a natural (the number 'Pilla' is an example. The folkish song is the best). There is no much scope for sentiment,
though there is enough space for showing confusion and exasperation.

Some worn-out ideas like projecting heroism through booze scenes could have been avoided.
Ali and MS Narayana don't add pep to the proceedings. Lines like 'Phone lo matladalante Nokia phone, Docomo sim unte chalu' sound silly.
It is now a mandatory thing in Balayya's films to have a sermon or two on women, elders and Telugu pride.
Referring to the massacre of tribals without a heavy-duty line on the cruelty smacks of lack of a sense of proportion.
Indraja's cameo makes us wonder if she is the next big character artiste around with a huge potential.

Radhika Apte is a mere glam doll and Trisha is not even that. The latter looks terribly off-colour.

Mani Sharma's music is good and the BGM is apt. The cinematography and art work are pleasant.
At 159 minutes, it looks lengthy and the film could have been at least 15 minutes shorter.

Verdict: An action entertainer for lovers of conventional cinema with mass elements thrown in.
It is intense and given that there are no films to give 'Lion' a competition in its habitat, expect a windfall.

Rating: 3/5

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