When you walk into a film that is almost three hours long, you know to expect some dull moments, some unnecessary sequences. You can also be almost sure that it is going to overstay its welcome by a good 20-30 minutes, if not more. That in itself puts the film at a disadvantage before it has begun. Then to have style attempting to mask shallow writing that is trying to masquerade as an intelligent heist/action film is thinking too little of the audience. But hey, even as an audience who sees through this, we can enjoy the action, the background score and sound design, the overall production–the few times it is good.
But then again we are talking about a film that boasts in its trailer that they know not the difference between romance and violence.
Indeed, if you were to chance upon scenes in which it is screening cities and towns from different angles or even when the action is on, it would feel like you are seeing a decent Hollywood action film. Until of course, the slow-motion introduction to the actor begins–yes, in almost every scene–or when what seems to be the story starts to unfold.
The seemingly intelligent heist that the film introduces its lead character (Prabhaas) with is intriguing. It even gives rise to the hope that what I am about to watch won’t be insignificant. As short-lived as that hope might be, as someone who walked in with zero expectations to be entertained, I am grateful. Soon enough, the film turns abruptly simplistic and transforms to being unabashedly free of logic. Meanwhile, the dramatic, slow-motion, from-every-angle-possible entries of main characters just don’t stop.
Something similar happens with the character-writing. Each main character in the film–the 3-4 villains and the 2-3 “good” people–are not helpless. In fact, they are strong, and no one is ever caught in a corner for too long. Unfortunately, this becomes boring after a while. You figure the pattern, thus making the film predictable.
It doesn’t help that the inconsistencies and loopholes turn from eye-roll-inducing to amusing. Somewhere during the chaos, 2000 crores become 200,000 crores, and I wondered if I nodded off during the conversion. Then come loopholes like why is X making a heist plan to rob something that he already has or if Y knew Z was a mole, why did they not expose Z. None of this seemed important in a bit because I began to lose track of the double-crossings. The number of stories, storytellers and the timeline of it all, turned hazy.
And then the writers stop trying. Lines begin to repeat, and one-liners such as the absolutely ridiculous cricket analogy are delivered with a failed attempt to hide the pretentiousness. And you realise that the few neat lines in the film were all used up in the trailer.
This is when the film turns outright absurd. It is not only “a python here, a panther there” kind of randomness. And it’s not even the Superman-without-a-cape kind of shoddy action. The amusing bits are when a particular character is picked to carry out an activity because no one would be expecting them. And everyone else is on to the character almost immediately, without rhyme or reason! We have no clue how the pursuers know. All this while everyone is fervently after some box. And suddenly no one is interested in it and is on a spree of their own.
You figure the pattern, thus making the film predictable.
However, you do get a sense that all the chaos is leading up to something “big,” but it isn’t difficult to guess. So by the time it comes around, it is too late. This predictability made my mind wander and wonder about things like, what would happen if Saaho didn’t say “It’s showtime”?
But then again we are talking about a film that boasts in its trailer that they know not the difference between romance and violence. No wonder you don’t see the chemistry between Prabhaas and Shraddha Kapoor or the animosity between the heroes and the villains. The only actor who stands out in this crew is Chunkey Pandey whose restraint is as surprising as it is admirable. It’d have been easy enough for him to go all Chunkey-Pandey-crazy in this film.
Interestingly for a film with such farcical writing, this is not the only directorial decision that worked well. I could have watched the movie for a little more time just for its choice of colour palette. The grey-brown with a touch of gold combined with the constant war-like action gave it a Game-of-Thronesque feel. This is other than the obvious references to the series. The sound design grabs your attention but not in a wrong way. The background music in the action sequences involving Amritha (Shraddha Kapoor) makes you sit up for the action choreography. Of course, we have seen it before, it is enjoyable nonetheless. The editing in these and other action scenes and the action choreography itself keeps you going through the long run-time. Beyond the gimmickry of suitcases becoming a convenient armament, other supposed improvisations work well. A shard of glass, for instance, becomes a weapon to make for a cool action sequence, even if a particularly bloody one.
And yet, not enough for a film to be recommendable. In passing, sure go ahead, watch it. Deliberate outing though, avoid.
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Disclaimer: I watched the film in Hindi
- meeta, a part of the audience
So-So, Bollywood Hungama : ...Music is average. 'Psycho Saiyaan' (changed to 'Kaiko Saiyaan') is the best song of the lot and well shot and choreographed. 'Enni Soni' and 'Baby Won't You Tell Me' are forced in the narrative. 'Bad Boy' is visually quite stunning. Ghibran's background score is a bit loud. In a few places, it overpowers the dialogues. Raju Sundaram and Vaibhavi Merchant's choreography is first-rate.... full review
So-So, by Urmimala Banerjee, Bollywood Life : ...Saaho deserves a watch for its scale, action and leading man Prabhas. The Baahubali actor proves he is unbeatable when it comes to onscreen swag. It is disappointing that he is let down by some lazy writing and editing.... full review
So-So, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Saaho is too long a film at three hours. An hour could easily been chopped off without losing anything. Go for it if you're a die-hard Prabhas fan and like leave-your-brains-behind kind of action. Otherwise avoid.... full review
So-So, by Josh, fullhyd.com : ...So, then, none of our complaints ought to matter as long as Prabhas can carry the film on his shoulders. Like he carried that heavy looking Siva linga on his shoulders in Bahubali: The Beginning. But for that the film had to be tight and compact, like a Siva linga, to be hoisted up and carried. Saaho, like a big open sack of over-ripe mangoes, is a drippy and sticky mess. It doesn't suffice that the star is strong and confident. It calls for the director to be collected and proficient at cleaning up.... full review
So-So, by Ambika Sachin, Khaleej Times : ...There is a scene towards the end of the movie when Saaho and Amritha are cowering under intense gunfire and the latter turns to the former to ask, 'Who are they? He replies nonchalantly: "Fans." Upon hearing more gunshots, she turns back to him and asks: "Why are they so violent then?". His reply? "Die hard fans." If you count yourself among that lot, then Saaho is definitely a must watch for you. Otherwise steer clear of this mess.... full review
So-So, by Priyanka Sinha Jha, News18.com : ...Unfortunately, despite its glitzy packaging, Saaho, because of a choppy, underwritten screenplay and excessive gorefest is a bit of a letdown even for those who love their Hindi movies served with a generous dose of masala. Sigh.... full review
So-So, by Piyush Chopra, Now Running.com : ...If the idea behind watching Saaho is to witness the most expensive action thriller film out of India, then the amount of money thrown at every single frame is pretty evident, sometimes even unnecessarily. However, if you're planning to watch an enjoyable action film regardless of budget, that Netflix subscription is a pretty good investment to make use of.... full review
So-So, by Ronak Kotecha, Times of India : ...Overall, 'Saaho' attempts at being a potboiler that fires in all directions to entertain the audience. There are so many twists and turns that it leaves you more exhausted than excited.... full review
Thumbs down, by Anna MM Vertticad, annavetticadgoes2themovies : ...The only film more boring than this that I have seen this year is the Malayalam disaster Mikhael starring Nivin Pauly. Saaho and Mikhael make last year’s Hindi film Race 3 look shiny and innovative in comparison.... full review
Thumbs down, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...No doubt they are expecting SAAHO to reach an astronomical figure in terms of the box office returns, but that expectation itself is again scary, clearly pointing towards the way audience is treated here as mere fools sitting in the theaters ready to accept anything and everything if led by their favourite star.... full review
Thumbs down, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...I wish he would just relax. Breathe easy. Let the mojo float. But no. There is the next fight and chase. And the one after that. It’s like a schoolboy who wants to show all his tricks to his parent’s guests. After a point you just want it to stop. Saaho leaves you exhausted. And craving for some peace and quiet.... full review
Thumbs down, by Suresh Kavirayaniresh, Deccan Chronicle : ...Sadly, Saaho is an unbearable watch, and even Prabhas fans are sure to be sorely disappointed. Though released with plenty of hype and hope, it falls short of all expectations. This is easily one of the worst movies in recent times and sure to be an irredeemable loss to the makers, cast and crew of the film.... full review
Thumbs down, by SUPARNA SHARMA, Deccan Chronicle : ...Given the amount of time devoted to action sequences in Saaho, Prabhas’ moves have no smoothness or finesse. As he lumbers, his thighs thunder. And when he’s not fighting, he looks pasty, his body is droopy and language languid. Much like I was at the end of Saaho.... full review
Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, Deepa Gahlot : ...This is Prabhas’s first outing since the Baahubali films, and, well, maybe he should leave the six-pack flaunting to Tiger Shroff and do roles where he can use his talent and undoubtedly attractive screen presence, which dwarfs all the other actors (Neil Nitin Mukesh, Mahesh Manjrekar, Tinnu Anand, Lal, Mandira Bedi, Murli Sharma are also around), who are not given much to do anyway, except stand back and let Prabhas shine. The film is just a tragic waste of money, expertise and effort; there is also over confidence that indicates the possibility of a sequel!... full review
Thumbs down, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...I know that a popcorn entertainer like Saaho isn’t driven by logic or coherence. And I would have made my peace with it if the film delivered a good time. My biggest complaint is that it’s a crashing bore. A lot of hard work has gone into creating the action and the extravagant sets. The budget is a reported 350 crores but for the viewer there’s little bang for the buck.... full review
Thumbs down, by Hemanth Kumar, FirstPost : ...At a runtime of just short of three hours, Saaho is a bloated action drama which never realises its full potential. No amount of stunts and gun fights help the film to camouflage its flaws, and the screenplay itself is so boring that you are never engrossed. The drama is non-existent. All we get is a black box which we wish had never opened. Because the anticipation to watch Saaho was more worth the effort than the film itself. A big thumbs down.... full review
Thumbs down, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...Sujeeth attempts a style over substance ferociousness that makes this experience rather gruelling and mind-numbing. Implausible, mindless, unviably hectic, irresponsible, Saaho is the kind of dim-witted popcorn entertainment one shouldn’t entertain!... full review
Thumbs down, by Vishal Verma, Glamsham.com : ...Big budget mainstream cinema starring a super star is a regular process. But it’s highly appalling and unbelievable to have a 350 crore epic disaster which ends as an embarrassment to all concern. The irony is this is that this is not going to end here. Very soon SAAHO will be a topic of national debate; experts will be digging through the rubble of this huge fiasco for a long time, trying to figure out who actually killed BAAHUBALI – kattapa or Saaho?... full review
Thumbs down, by Monika Rawal Kukreja, Hindustan Times : ...To cut a long story short, Saaho is a classic action thriller that could have been made on par with Hollywood but is reduced to an average story sprinkled with elements of romance, suspense and revenge. Watch it for the last 30 minutes and don’t expect pieces of puzzles to fall into place and make up a believable story, because there isn’t any.... full review
Thumbs down, by Lakshana N Palat, india today : ...The ending of Saaho hints at a sequel. If that's the case, please pray that it is better written and more cohesive. How will we saaho that otherwise? Apologies for the bad joke but that's all you're left with at the end of the film.... full review
Thumbs down, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...This distorted values tale about a son avenging his criminal father will NOT evoke sympathy and should not have been made, at least in a Hindi version. The 2.51 hours narration only makes it more tedious and a criminal (pun intended) waste of time.... full review
Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...The rest, including the miscast Kapoor as a canny sleuthing cop, go by in a blur. Jackie Shroff is wasted in a brief cameo, and that’s a pity because he brings a loucheness to the table that no one else has. Bedi, costumed in gorgeous earth-coloured saris, doesn’t have a single evil bone in her body, and Neil Nitin Mukesh becomes just one more hapless character who is left to flounder in this never-ending rat-rat-a-tat-tat, biff-bang-thud, oh-there-goes-another-body-but-who-cares enterprise.... full review
Thumbs down, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and one, Saaho is Prabhas’ Ra.One moment. Both the movies had amazing potential and failed to tap it. It’s a 350-crore worth of opportunity lost! You can watch it for the visuals. If the makers re-release it muting the dialogues, chopping out the four songs & Shraddha Kapoor’s track, it comparatively can do well.... full review
Thumbs down, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...On the evidence of such extreme silliness, Sujeeth might have a future directing Fast and Furious movies. And maybe Hollywood could lend us Chad Stahelski.... full review
Thumbs down, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...Beyond the interval, the filmmakers, overwhelmed by the experience themselves, essentially give up on tightening and editing the film at all. They let loose on an eager audience merely set-pieces in quick succession, and so much random anth-shanth, akar-bakar, that it becomes impossible to saho (bear) Saaho, once you get closer to three hours.... full review
Thumbs down, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...Saaho packs the chest-thumping bravado distinct of South Indian action thrillers. The henchmen don’t just collapse on receiving the blows, they first inform their villain bosses that the blood on the hero’s face is actually theirs, before dropping to the ground.... full review
Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Saaho may, like so many other shrill, gory actioners of the recent past, end up make pots of money. But that will not take away from the fact that it is egregiously turgid. A Telugu superstar attempting to break into Hindi cinema should have chosen better.... full review
Thumbs down, by Rajeev Masand, News18.com : ...Others like Shraddha Kapoor, Chunky Pandey, Mahesh Manjrekar, Mandira Bedi, Tinnu Anand, and Neil Nitin Mukesh barely register despite reasonable screen time. You can hardly be blamed. The impressively staged but ultimately exhausting action sequences take up the bulk of screen time, but they can’t salvage this soulless film that has all the depth and emotional wallop of a video game.... full review
Thumbs down, by Vaibhavi V Risbood, Pinkvilla : ...Writer-director Sujeeth seems unclear with his attempt. In an attempt to script a thrilling magnum opus, Saaho becomes a heterogeneous mixture of Bollywood and Hollywood masala scripts. Underdeveloped characters and a superfluity of them leaves audience quizzing: 'Sahu Kaise’ (how to handle it). It's the kind of film which reviewers have to see so that we could save some of you from it.... full review
Thumbs down, by Joginder Tuteja, Planet Bollywood : ...This is what brings me to the earlier point around being exasperated and frustrated with what was offered to me as an audience. Had the focus been on the dramatic element and the politics behind finding the right heir to the gangsters’ throne, Saaho could well have turned out to be a far different and much better overall experience.... full review
Thumbs down, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...In a premise practically screaming for cheesy humour, jokes are strictly off limits. Any time a character dares to titter, he’s instantly gunned down or strangulated.... full review
Thumbs down, by SHILPA JAMKHANDIKAR, Reuters : ...Prabhas, fresh off the success of the “Baahubali” franchise, fails to re-create his brooding action hero persona. Shraddha Kapoor’s character doesn’t have much to do except be rescued by a manly-man, with whom she must occasionally dance. The rest of the cast, including Chunky Pandey and Mahesh Manjrekar, seem to be wondering what on earth is going on. So will viewers.... full review
Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...The promises never stop even as the 179-minute movie crumbles under the weight of its ambitions. I will inflict great pain on you, Chunky Pandey’s Devraj warns Ashok, but like the rest of Saaho, this turns out to be yet another instance of empty talk and pointless swagger.... full review
Thumbs down, by Sangeetha Devi Dundoo, The Hindu : ...Saaho was an opportunity to follow up on Baahubali, which had both scale and imagination, and blur the boundaries between regional and national cinema once again. Sadly, it ends up as a missed opportunity.... full review
Thumbs down, by Ritika Handoo, Zee News : ...Most of the film's prop cast overacts, including Neil Nitin Mukesh, Jackie Shroff, Mandira Bedi, Evelyn Sharma and Mahesh Manjrekar. No one, in particular, stands out, in a script wholly set up to regale Prabhas fans.... full review
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