“Srikanth Is The Most Endearing Biopic In Recent Times” -A Subhash K Jha Review

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Starring Rajkummar Rao,
Directed by Tushar Hiranandani

Normally, biopics in Hindi cinema struggle to cram in as much eulogy as possible. Tushar Hiranandani’s Srikanth is different. It is a warm and affectionate look at a truelife hero. But it avoids being a visual hagiography.

Rajkummar Rao in a performance that he can show to his unborn children humanizes the blind entrepreneur Srikanth Bolla without denuding the character of any of his blemishes.

Into the rarest-of-rare category falls the visually impaired visionary Srikanth Bolla whose lifestory is so inspiring, it would take a devastatingly doltish director to destroy the dream. Happily, Tushar Hiranandani is not an inept filmmaker, though he could have taken Srikant Bolla’s story much further than it actually goes in this heartfelt love story: the love of a insurmountably disadvantaged man for life.

This existential ebullience comes shining through in Rajkumar Rao’s buoyant performance. It would be no exaggeration to say Rao is the life and breath of Srikanth. Rao seems to enjoy his character Srikanth’s zest for life , his self-deprecatory humour his pride and, yes, his ego to the hilt, and embraces the character with all his blemishes wholeheartedly.

What a joy it is to see a biographical figure on screen who doesn’t smell only of roses. While watching some recent biopics I felt I had accidently zoned into mythologicals, plastic haloes and all, poor Atal getting the worst treatment.

But hello, hello, Rajkummar Rao’s Srikanth comes across as a flawed but fabulous fighter: no brownie points for his disability, thank you. Hence, while the first-half shows the spirited dreamer fighting his way to a place where the sightless can never reach, the second-half shows Srikanth as a churlish overreacher who shuns away those who had helped him gain his stature in spite if all odds, namely his teacher Devika (Jyothika, lovely as ever), girlfriend Swathi (Alaya F, leaves an impression in a film which essentially has room for only one character to shine) and business partner Ravi(Sharad Kelkar).

The script (Jagdeep Siddhu, Sumit Purohit) hurries through Srikanth’s moral decline and quick redemption, as though running out of time. I fear director Tushar Hiranandani’s concern for not losing his audiences’ attention inveigled him into going too fast in the second-half.

Admittedly the over-clenched editing (Debasmita Mitra,Sanjay Sankla) keep the proceedings on red-alert throughout. Srikanth is a hurried bio-pic but there’s never a dull moment. At times, the writing is spectacularly engrossing. I especially liked the tantrum that Srikanth throws at the airport when Srikanth is not allowed to travel alone .

Whatever the blemishes in the storytelling and in Srikanth’s character, Rajkummar Rao makes us overlook the hurdles and keeps us focussed on the larger picture rather than the petty details.

Rao is extraordinarily effective. His Srikanth Bolla is stubborn, proud, cheeky, dismissive, arrogant , touchy and often rude. I don’t know how much of all this the real Srikanth is. But I suspect this is the best and the least compromised version of the real Srikanth that we get to see.

Our Rating

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