Director: M G Srinivas
Cast: Upendra, Rangayana Raghu, Bhavana and others
Desi Robin Hood strikes again and unlike his earlier Super, encounters today’s reality. Scripted by Upendra, Topiwaala, as proclaimed, is a political satire that seems to be made in a hurry to fill the gap between two news shows.
There’s no law and order in the state’s law and order situation. Thieves don policemen’s garb and treat all people as targets, politicians included. But one cop, Ramayana Raghu, knows the mastermind behind the chaos — Basak (Upendra, of course). The usual “kalla-police” chase ensues till Basak steals an antique Krishna idol from an equally old-looking temple.
Now, others (read one set of thugs-turned-politicians) are after this idol as it is supposed to remind a beggar the main code to the money ALL the hoarders have stashed away in the Swiss banks. Trouble is, the tortured beggar is afflicted with short term memory loss a la Ghajini, thanks to the thugs. The kalla-police chase gives way to a code-hunt where many sub-codes and finally the key code emerge.
There is Kanwarlal, the son of a politician who wants the main code at any cost, there is Sarkar a la Gabbar Singh, Lokayukta Loki resembling the Thakur of Sholay and yes, there is Biradar playing Mr India – not Shekhar Kapur’s invisible hero, but the common man who continues to bear the brunt of continuing negligence - his own and that of the government and allied agencies.
There is also Suman Bedi, an undercover CBI officer who passes on secrets to Sarkar.
Upendra’s pen succeeds in spoofing all and sundry, an almost feather-light slap on the common man’s face. Most of his barbs lose their power once they are out of the characters’ mouth with an indifferent audience lapping them up with practised glee. Shrini nee Srinivas’ dialogues covering Uppi’s body of work raise the perfunctory whistles - the tiredness shows. Harikrishna goes dhaam-dhoom in busting the charts with Shangrila and uppilala topiwaala lingering in the mind. Newbie Shreesha Kuduvalli’s camerawork slowly covers eastman colour days.
Expectations are automatically lowered once the spoofy maahaul is created. Raghu hams and wriggles throughout, Achyut Kumar tries hard to channelise the burning intensity of Sanjeev Kumar, Ravishankar tries to look menacing while Raju Talikote shows his perfection in buffoonery. Bhavana’s cause as the CBI lady cop infiltrating the thieves gang is not helped with her changing bustline and deadpan expression. Biradar shines in his brief role, letting all emotions play across in the climax - a truly priceless moment in a film that loses its plot in an attempt to lighten up serious issues.
Somehow, this Topiwaala gives elan the go-by while wearing too many thinking caps. What if there was a bit more seriousness... What if indeed!