“Prassthanam” (reign) should serve as a lesson for all those who believe that a star, although rusty, is enough to earn the best dollar at the box office.
It is equally frustrating to watch a movie, knowing the potential it has, but a bad execution and a regressive story make the train derail even before it leaves the station.
Director Deva Katta, who directed the original Telugu movie nine years ago, returns to captain the adaptation of the Hindi language, but stumbles in this Bollywood update, with actor and producer Sanjay Dutt leading the charge in front of the camera.
Dutt plays Baldev Pratap Singh, the patriarch of a political dynasty whose legacy is questioned when his two children face without realizing it.
Ali Fazal plays Aayush, his eldest son, the supposed heir to the political throne, but a quick flashback determines that his succession is not without obstacles.
The youngest son Vivaan (Satyajeet Dubey), a sociopath for all purposes, wants to take power for himself and the petulant child makes enough tantrums to make himself heard in the course of this movie.
As spectators, this is not our first rodeo in a political thriller. In recent times, films such as ‘Rajneeti’ and the trilogy ‘Sarkar’ by Ram Gopal Verma have reached this same ring with several successes, although the third ‘Sarkar’ was an exaggeration for all involved.
You will see shadows of Subhash Nagre from Amitabh Bachchan in Dutt’s Baldev, to the same scene where he greets his good friends from his sick bed after a frustrated attack. But while Nagre de Bachchan became stoic in the face of his son’s transgressions, Baldev de Dutt seems almost exhausted by the weight of his role and the production of this film.
That said, Dutt is sometimes redeemed, but those scenes are simply too fleeting to keep the temper.
Manisha Koirala as Saroj, the suffering wife of Baldev, tries to bring a dignified presence to his shots, but does not fulfill his regressive role. I’m sorry, Mr. Katta, but women have struggled a lot to overcome this stereotype of helpless women that existed in Bollywood in the 80s and 90s.
Jackie Shroff as Baldev’s faithful friend, Badshaah, makes his way through the misspelled character, while Fazal seems to have stumbled upon Amazon Prime’s ‘Mirazapur’ sets and resumed ‘Prassthanam’ right where he left it. That said, it still stands firm during moments full of emotions.
A useless love song with Amyra Dastur is exactly that, while the attempt to season this movie with songs to make it seemingly more commercial is also a futile effort.
Apart from Fazal, the only other saving grace in this poor man’s game of thrones is Chunky Pandey as Bajwa Khatri, a swarmed businessman who would be willing to sell his soul to earn quick money. Pandey, in his limited role, is a revelation sometimes.
Dubey as the destructive son shows potential, but even his efforts fail in his character arc stereotype.
“Prassthanam” attempts to recover the glory of the original 2010 film, but this commitment to power is better to let her fight in silence.