Our Rating: 7/10
Akhanda is the action entertainer that’ll work strictly for Balakrishna’s fans because anyone looking to kill time over a tub of popcorn or a bottle of coke might leave exhausted.
Watching Akhanda feels like an exercise in sensory deprivation. The only difference is, instead of feeling relaxed and calm afterward, you may feel your senses have been deprived for good.
Akhanda is a sensible and deeply thoughtful movie about how some evil men exploit people’s religious beliefs for petty gains. When the crimes of these men reach their peak, the universe conspires to bring an Aghori from Kashi and the city-dwelling villain face-to-face, so the godman could defeat adharama (wickedness) and establish dharma (righteousness).
There are films, and there are films by director Boyapati Srinu. Then there are films by Boyapati Srinu starring Nandamuri Balakrishna. Everything is more significant than life in the cinematic universe where the two collaborate. Nothing is subtle, not even remotely. In their third outing together after Simha and Legend, the two decide to up the scale and the decibels. Telugu film Akhanda stars Balakrishna in a dual role, but we’ll come to that in a bit.
The director is aware of the star’s massive fanbase. Chants of ‘Jai Balayya’ are the norm when his films arrive at the theatres. This time, the fans took it a step further. Sample this: ‘Edukondalavada Venkataramana… jai Balayya!’ In Akhanda, one of the roles essayed by Balakrishna is akin to a demi-God, someone who has superhuman powers. The other character played by Balakrishna is named Murali Krishna, a Good Samaritan who has been instrumental in stopping faction strife and is revered by all.
After Legend and Simha, Actor Balakrishna and director Boyapati Srinu team up for their third film – a mass action entertainer that relies solely on the lead’s star power. Unfortunately, a good storyline is watered down due to a miscalculated screenplay, and everyone takes a backseat for NBK. The result might make the star’s fans scream ‘Jai Balayya’ for almost complete movie, but one can’t deny that Boyapati fails to pull off what he promises.
- Cast: Nandamuri Balakrishna, Pragya Jaiswal, Srikanth, Jagapati Babu
- Direction: Boyapati Srinu
- Music: S S Thaman
Murali Krishna and Akhanda are separated at birth because one of them has the destiny to fulfill and a war to fight. What brings these two together?
Murali Krishna is a people’s man in Anantapur. He is a farmer who uses his income to build hospitals and throws a punch when needed, and reform factionists to care for nature. His character is almost a nod to the new direction Balakrishna is willing to take with his roles. On the other hand, However, District Collector Saranya is unafraid to hold corrupt police officers accountable in her district with the help of Principal Secretary of Environment Forest and Climate Change, Padmavati (Poorna).
Balakrishna gets the chance to shine because he fills almost every frame of the film, either as Akhanda or Murali Krishna. He gets to dance and indulge in dialogue delivery when he’s not showing off his cool new avatar in slow-motion shots that focus on his fake tattoos and piercing eyes. And while that’s initially enough to give you a rush, it soon gets exhausting as the film progresses. Pragya might get an introduction (almost) on par with the hero, but she’s lost to the proceedings despite giving the character her all. On the other hand, Poorna, Srikanth, Nitin, Jagapathi Babu, Kalakeya Prabhakar, Subbaraju, and others have one-tone characters that breeze through.
Apart from the mass moments and fights (by Stun Shiva) that are fun (but there are too many of them), what works for the film is Thaman’s BGM. His score and Ram Prasad’s cinematography set the tone for the film, even making the proceedings interesting when Boyapati is filling runtime with nothing much to say. At the end of it all, the film’s length (2-hours-47-minutes) doesn’t seem justified for the story he wants to tell. You are also left with the feeling that despite Balakrishna’s agora character Akhanda taking up so much time, Boyapati misses the potential to do more with it.
While Boyapati talks about real issues in the movie, like unchecked mining, irresponsible disposal of chemical waste, fake godmen, and meaninglessness of violence, it is all grandstanding. It may look like the film is pro-progress and pro-rationality, but his characters’ actions are anything but. He has also irresponsibly used spirituality to provide a moral justification for his character, who keeps slaughtering people with impunity. It’s alright. You see, Akhanda is a good man with a lethal weapon.
Camera Work: 8/10