Srikanth is sincere depiction of visually-challenged entrepreneur

Alaya F and Rajkummar Rao in Srikanth. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

I am not easily emotionally influenced by a film, but I do admit that I was moved in many places by what was depicted in Srikanth, the biopic on Srikanth Bolla, the first Indian visually-impaired entrepreneur who overcame his handicap and kept winning at every stage in life.

In biopics, there is always a bit of necessary dramatization, but over here, the script and direction does not allow us to fathom what is ‘reel’ and what is real. Maybe Srikanth’s temporary fling with arrogance that is shown has been exaggerated, and today it is a shade challenging to realize that at one point, Srikanth’s grandfather had actually thought of burying the infant alive because the blind have no future—or so it is thought.

An aspiration-based true story, the film sensitively dwells of several issues featuring a human being who will never see the world in the way normal people do. At one point, we have the one-liner, “I cannot see, but I have vision” but the main advantage the film has is that at no point does it become heavy or dreary.

The situations and especially the lines are kept light and relatable, though most societal and social issues are clearly shown—in how children can be cruel, how the world ‘perceives’ a blind person, how Indian law has or had social disparities and how, especially in Srikanth’s case, a lack of one of the basic human senses need not be a handicap but at every stage can elicit a ‘fight’ rather than ‘flight’ response to any kind of challenge. This film reminded me of the Oscar-nominated Marathi masterpiece, Shwaas, which also showed that a film (this one ended in tragedy), need not be morose or depressing but can have a pleasant undercurrent of humor.

The film also stops short of melodrama, another refreshing part of the narrative that does stretch a bit at two hours-plus when it should have been ideally short of two hours. The climax event is a highlight in a way, though it does come across as more than a shade ‘filmi’. Is this dramatization again? I wonder.

Srikanth Bhola’s journey from a gifted childhood to a man who, on merit, gains admission in the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology in USA and his decision to come back to home country and what happens next forms the storyline. His love angle is kept in the background and we come to know of his 2022 marriage only in the end-movie slides.

Technically, the film is upscale and I must say that writer-turned-director Tushar Hiranandani deserves full credit for making a real story absorbing and moving. The box-office may be another story altogether (like with Maidaan), because this is among the worst-promoted movies in recent years. And of course there is no face value here—it has neither big names nor great music. Having said that, if ever a song re-creation was justified, it is in the film’s use of Papa kehte hain from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, but that is the wonder of yesteryear’s songs—even their lyrics (Majrooh Sultanpuri here) fit specific situations in movies that are made decades later in their truism and universality!

The rest of the songs are completely vapid, as is the level today when self-styled connoisseurs of music decide what works (and actually does not!!), but Ishaan Chhabra’s background score is wonderfully done: here’s another wizard in this arena of limited greats like Raju Singh, Viju Shah, Sanjoy Chowdhury, Julius Packiam and Achint Thakkar.

Rajkummar Rao’s performance is, as expected, proficient and methodical. His hard work shows in his expressions and his eyebrow moments and must have been quite challenging. Jyothika, seen recently in Shaitan, does a great job as Devika, his teacher. Alaya F. has a limited role as Swathi, Srikanth’s love interest, but adds to the glam quotient of the film. Jameel Khan is excellent as A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. But it is Sharad Kelkar who stuns and absolutely steals the show as Ravi. What a versatile and humongous talent this man is!

On the whole, I would recommend Srikanth for an emotionally-involving watch that highlights how a man can overcome everything to come out a winner.

T-Series Films & Chalk N Cheese Films present Srikanth  Produced by: Nidhi Parmar Hiranandani, Bhushan Kumar & Krishan Kumar  Directed by: Tushat Hiranandani  Written by: Jagdeep Siddhu, Sumit Purohit & K.K. Binojee  Music: Anand-Milind, Tanishk Bagchi, Ved Sharma, Sachet-Parampara & Aditya Dev Starring: Rajkummar Rao, Jyothika, Alaya F., Sharad Kelkar, Jameel Khan, Bharat Jadhav, Srikant Manna, Arnav Abdagire, Srinivas Beesetty, Anusha Nuthula, Sridhar Murthy, Om Kanojiya, Sp. Appearance: Hansal Mehta & others







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