Love and patriotism go hand in hand

Lakshmi
Kannada (U/A) ¬¬¬1/2
Director: Raghav Loki
Cast: Shivarajkumar,
Priyamani and others

Of late, Shivarajkumar is trying to reinvent himself, signing up a slew of films with young and fresh-thinking directors. The result has been mixed so far, but quite encouraging as well.

A generation of Shivanna’s fans who grew up watching his dance moves, among other attributes, is determined to re-imprint their idol’s worth upon the minds of a fresh set of youngsters who are constantly fed imitations of the original. Indeed, inching closer to 50, Shivanna’s energy still seems peerless.

One such effort is Raghava Loki’s Lakshmi, the tale of a CBI officer who’s out to rout all terrorists in the country, as one of them has also “stolen” his loving wife. The director has an almost solid screenplay (by producer B R Duggineni) to play around with. With a “different” opening scene, Lakshmi perks up interest. Several scenes are then devoted to establish Shivanna’s prowess in extracting information out of hardcore criminals employing even questionable methods. The scenes are interspersed with flashbacks narrating his personal life, allowing viewers a break from shocks administered by Shivanna’s ferocity.

Shivanna’s zest has been made ample use of, the different looks adding to his charm. His pairing opposite Priyamani is refreshing, if some obvious signs of ageing are overlooked. Both seasoned performers, the duo complete their quota of customary shenanigans before doing what they are good at –convincing skeptics that their act is the real one.

The ensemble chosen is okay, though there are aberrations: actors like Ravi Kale, Saloni, Rangayana Raghu (who is yet again reduced to buffoonry), Lakshman, Avinash, Dileep Raj etc are wasted. Songs by Gurukiran linger, if only to remind one of the Hindi “original” tunes! K M Prakash’s scissors are kept busy and it shows. Despite the tedium of “club song-dance,” story retains interest till Priyamani’s capture in the second half, from where it runs on predictable lines.

What make the viewer sit up and take notice are the amount and quality of fight sequences. Thriller Manju and Ravi Varma’s action choreography is tailor-made for Shivanna’s image revival.

Indeed, they pay homage to the countless, no-brainer, Asian action films, replete with martial arts, smartly dressed men in black, chopper spattering a house with bullets before blasting it into smithereens... Song conception is nice, so are the sets and the amount of CGI work gone behind the scenes. Climax brings Sippy’s post- Sholay work Shaan to mind. Much better than “Shiva,” Lakshmi is definitely worth a watch.

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