PAILWAAN (2019)

  • Release Date: 12/09/2019
  • Cast: Sudeep, Suniel Shetty, Aakanksha Singh, Sushant Singh, Kabir Duhan Singh, Avinash, Sharath Lohitashwa
  • Director: S. Krishna

Krishna aka Kichcha (Kichcha Sudeep) is an orphan brought up by Sarkar (Suniel Shetty). Sarkar is his God not because he brought him up but because of the love that he showered on him. He has only one aim in life and that is to fulfill Sarkar’s dream of winning a national medal in Wrestling. Kichcha grows up to become one of the most powerful wrestlers of Ranasthalipura and is well on his way to becoming the national champion that Sarkar wants him to be. But as luck would have it, he falls head over heels in love with Rukmini (Aakanksha Singh) who loves him back with an equal penchant. Rukmini’s father wants her to marry someone else and when he realizes that Kichcha might be a problem, he walks up to Sarkar and asks for his help to keep the man in check. Sarkar promises Rukmini’s father that Kichcha would not come in the way of his daughter’s marriage but Kichcha doesn’t abide and arrives at her house on the day of her wedding. Sarkar is crestfallen at Kichcha’s incompliance to his wishes and banishes him from his house.

Tony (Kabir Duhan Singh) is an out of control boxing champion who has recently willfully killed a man in a fight when he didn’t need to. He is evil incarnate and not even his coach, Sharath Lohitashwa is spared from his wrath. Tony insults him and toys with his self-respect to the extent that the man sets out to look for a fighter who would beat Tony in his own game and break his ego. His search leads him to Kichcha but before he can reach him, Kichcha has already been banished by Sarkar and no one knows where he is.

Raja Rana Pratap Singh (Sushant Singh) is the self-proclaimed king and oppressor of Ranasthalipura. He believes himself to be the groom in every marriage and corpse in every funeral of Ranasthalipura. He has also proclaimed himself as the best wrestler in the place and would go to any extent to ensure that he remains the champion. Soon he comes face to face with Kichcha in the ring and is subsequently humiliated. After Kichcha is banished by Sarkar, he spends the next 4 years searching for the man to exact revenge on him. A chance encounter with Kichcha brings him face to face with his nemesis. The rest of the film is about how these three storylines run into each other and culminate satisfactorily.

Pailwaan is a film that cuts very close to Salman Khan starrer Sultan and that I believe is the reason why he is mentioned in the “roll of gratitude”. The story may be a far cry from that of Sultan but it does from time to time nod to the spirit of that film. For me, Pailwaan was a bittersweet affair. There were a lot of things that I liked about the film and I would like to bring those up first before dwelling into my issues with the film.

Kichcha Sudeep is easily the best thing about the film. He has the kind of attitude that is tailor-made for a film like this and he makes the most of the gusto that he knows he has. He shares a wonderful camaraderie with Suniel Shetty who himself doesn’t budge when he is faced with the towering presence of Kichcha. Sudeep scores big in the action sequences involving wrestling and free-style Southie throw and fly flights as these are what he has been doing for ages now. He looks comparatively comfortable in the wrestling sequences and it adds to the charm of his act. He also does exceptionally well in the dramatic sequences. I would like to bring up two sequences here to prove my point. The sequence where he explains to Sarkar why he wants to box and the sequence where he meets Rukmini’s father in the hospital. These may not seem like too many but these sequences add to the charm of the film and help it to rise above its reach even if that is momentary. Sudeep’s chemistry with Aakanksha Singh also worked well for me even though these sequences did slow down the film.

The film, like most South Indian Films, has a lot on its platter and that helps its cause. There were points in the film where many would end their film but Pailwaan just purrs along and goes ahead with other things that it has to accomplish. I enjoyed the fact that the three lines of stories mentioned above are quite distant from each other and yet somehow the director gives us enough reasons for them to crisscross each other’s path and culminate in each other’s timeline. It does feel a tad bit convenient owing to how some of the things happen but that is something that can be accepted in a film like this.

There is a lot of heart in the narrative that helps make up for some of the deficiencies of the film. Pailwaan is a good looking film. The cinematography by Karunakara A. is top-notch. The way he captures the rustic beauty of Ranasthalipura is beautiful to look at. Later in the field when he has to capture choreographed boxing matches, he shows the same kind of competency even though the actors don’t compliment him too well. The editing of the film works well on the sequence level. But, when the question of overall length and pacing of the film comes, it does overstay its welcome by quite a bit. I enjoyed the background score of the film. That is something we have come to expect from most South Indian films.

Kabir Duhan Singh and Sushant Singh play the two primary antagonists of the film and both of them are ordinary. Sushant is a terrific actor and a wonderful baddy but here he is reduced to a punching bag and almost a joke by the time Kichcha is done with him. He has nothing worthwhile to do and the costume choices for him make him look like a performer straight out of a cheap historical movie more than a fearsome oppressor. Kabir Duhan Singh looks the part but the moment he opens his mouth you find him laughable. He has a signature move in boxing and he does that so many times that after a while it loses its novelty and becomes a laughable dance move that wouldn’t even fool a kid. Add to that his overacting and you have a performance that is forgettable if not regrettable.

The biggest deficiency of the film in terms of the action sequences are the boxing matches. There is just no feel to it and one can sense that Sudeep is uncomfortable in doing what he is shown doing. There is no flow or physicality in the action and how the sequences unfold strip it of any shred of believability. That comes as a telling blow to the overall affectivity of the film because these sequences were not only the big climax but were also meant to resonate with the audiences as they celebrated the rise of Kichcha from the ashes like a phoenix. Atleast that was the case with Salman Khan’s Sultan but here — not so much.

Overall Pailwaan is a harmless and entertaining fare that can be watched for the visuals, the uplifting story and Kichcha Sudeep’s stellar act. Suniel Shetty fans will also have a thing or two to cheer about as Anna flexes his muscles a few times here and there.

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

 

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