Saaho Hindi Movie Review
If there was an award for the most predictable twists told in the most convoluted manner, then writer-director Sujeeth's Saaho might be one of the frontrunners to win it. As things stand, at a budget north of Rs. 300 crores, the film contains as many plot twists as it does punches, and neither facet of the film is as thrilling as that price tag would indicate.
The film begins with Ashok (Prabhas), an undercover cop who is assigned the high profile case of catching a robber who has yet to be sighted by the police. What happens when you throw in a romantic track, at least 4-5 antagonistic gangsters and a love for Fast and Furious films? The answer may or may not surprise you but it's shoddy writing, frenetic editing and so much slo-mo and green screen work that actors start looking like VFX too.
Sujeeth has taken every stale and predictable twist that's ever been written for a thriller and he's put it all in. In fact, the only surprising thing about the entire plot of the film is that nobody would expect this many tired and barely-concealed twists put into one film. 5, maybe 10 would've been sufficient enough. Instead, Sujeeth's film runs for a massive 171 minutes because at any point, there's about 10 double-cross subplots ongoing, none of which truly make sense beyond the most shallow of motivations, all of which are edited beyond coherence.
In fact, the editing of Saaho (by veteran A. Sreekar Prasad) is so choppy that it gives you motion sickness after a while. Every punch, every explosion is split into so many micro-shots stitched together on a caffeine high by an Associate Editor that it's impossible to tell who got hit or blown up. The attempt is to make the unwieldily, almost 3 hour run time seem more fast paced with the fast cutting but if Prasad had used his scissors to lop off a few subplots and at least 3 songs entirely, the film might just have been a much tighter edited and written film.
When an experienced Editor like Prasad doesn't know how to fit all the disparate narrative strands together cohesively, your film is in trouble. The entire second half is so densely intercut between 5 different threads of story that it's impossible to figure out how each of them got to the point where they are. The action sequences start coming across as montages that never end and the second half of the film is so dragged that the final twist, unveiled like a massive bombshell, will appear like a Diwali firecracker to anyone who tried to use their brains throughout the film's duration or someone who has even seen Don or any of the Race films.
For consolation, you'll find enough things and heads getting blown up to drown Prabhas's hero figure in CGI blood and get through that lengthy runtime. When our shirtless, ripped action hero throws his parachute off a frozen mountain and then jumps after it himself, unrelated to any of the 320 subplots, you know that scene is just for the purpose of eliciting a few lusty moans of approval from his female fan base. And judging by the reaction to such scenes in my auditorium, the makers seem to have succeeded in that department at least.
There's not much else to admire for Prabhas fans, especially if they're expecting Baahubali-level histrionics from him. He seems mostly miscast in the role of Saaho and he himself seems disinterested in almost everything that's going on. Initially, his character's comic flair needed to be played with the energy of a Govinda at times, which he plays like a rigid Salman Khan. In the romantic songs, he seems too stiff and uncomfortable as well. It helps his cause that he's surrounded by known faces who aren't exactly known for their acting prowess. So, actors like Jackie Shroff, Chunkey Pandey, Mahesh Manjerekar are given hammy parts to pick up the film's low energy at times, and none of them manage to make a mark. Shraddha Kapoor's performance trajectory remains so flat throughout the film that her acting can be declared Dead on Arrival.
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.