Star-struck script hobbles wrestling saga

The much-hyped Sudeep starrer ‘Pailwaan’ falters both in content and treatment. A film that takes off brilliantly concludes unconvincingly.

‘Pailwaan’ is reminiscent of Bollywood blockbusters ‘Sultan’ (2016) and ‘Dangal’ (2016), both celebrations of wrestling. The two Hindi films worked because the story took the driver’s seat and put the stars in the back seat. ‘Pailwaan’s’ director Krishna, on the other hand, has woven a story keeping a star in mind. Expectations evaporate in no time.

Krishna lets a golden opportunity go waste as Pailwaan ends up as a masala movie.

Does Pailwaan tell the story of a poor wrestler’s struggles? Is it about a man’s striving to make his son a national champion? Is it about a wrestler and his daughter? Is it an orphan’s quest to provide training infrastructure for fellow sportspeople?

The film provides no answers.

Cinematography and stunts in first half remind us of ‘KGF: Chapter 1’. Arjun Janya’s tunes and background score in some scenes are also in a similar mode.

As Krishna focuses on building Sudeep’s image, a couple of dialogues seem to take aim at two leading Kannada actors.

At least two songs and a fight are force-fitted into the film. The climax is a big letdown as it provides no sense of completion.

Much of the story occurs at the north Karnataka village of Gajendragad. Not even a scene has been shot there. Gajendragad’s people speak a south Karnataka dialect! The film overlooks such small but crucial details.

However, Krishna manages to keep the audience engaged till the end, if not on the edge of the seat. Pailwaan does have some touching scenes in the second half.

Sudeep comes out with a decent performance. Suniel Shetty steals the show in his maiden Kannada movie. Kabir Singh Dulhan and Sushant Singh bring life to their roles. The character of Jaanu doesn’t support the plot, but Sharvari as Sudeep’s daughter draws attention. The comedy scenes involving Appanna are annoying.

A long action scene in the boxing ring in the climax keeps the audience hooked.

Cinematography adds value. Arjun Janya’s music and Nagendra Prasad’s lyrics are just above average.

For all its flaws, the high-voltage movie entertains die-hard Sudeep fans.

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