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Movie Review: Prassthanam

Banners: Sanjay S Dutt Productions

Producer: Maanayata Dutt

Director: Deva Katta

Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Manisha Koirala, Jackie Shroff, Chunky Panday, Ali Fazal, Satyajeet Dubey, Chhahat Khanna, Amyra Dastur

Writers: Deva Katta (Story, Screenplay), Farhad Samji (Adapted Screenplay, dialogue)

Music: Ankit Tiwari, Farhad Samji, Vikram Montrose

Political family drama is not a much sought after genre in Hindi cinema today. If we had to recollect films made in this category, we may have to go back a decade or more to movies like Sarkar and Raajneeti. This does not mean that the subject is dated and maybe that is why the makers of Prassthanam decided to remake a 10-year-old South film of the same genre.

Baldev Pratap Singh is a formidable political figure. By his side is his son Aayush, who not only looks up to his father but also follows his footsteps. Then there is Vivaan, the younger son who feels that he is the rightful heir to his father's political throne. While Aayush works hard to protect his father's power and clout, Vivaan with his antics manages to land Baldev in trouble often. Baldev's wife Saroj tries to maintain the peace in the household, but she has to still make amends with her daughter Palak who wants nothing to do with the family. The only person Palak has any relationship with is Aayush. The reasons for the conflict between Palak and her mother lies in the past, a past that set the foundation for the strong relationship between Baldev and Aayush as well as Vivaan’s strained relations with his parents and his jealousy towards his brother.

Amidst all this family drama, there is a power struggle also in play; the main character in it being Bajwa Khatri. He is a businessman who has set his eyes on a mining contract, which Baldev has managed to put a stay on. But when there is a lot to gain and lose, such power struggle results in bloodshed. And as luck would have it, Khatri gets the chance to influence Baldev and use his money and power to force him to play the politics that he wants. The resulting circumstances pit brother against brother, friend against friend, father against son and husband against wife. 

Baldev is forced to make difficult choices. Is his close friend Badshah's loyalty above his political ambition? Is his love for Vivaan stronger than Aayush's devotion? Is his desire to win an election greater than Saroj's sacrifice and pain? As the horrors of the past manifest in the present, Prassthanam takes us on a roller coaster ride of emotions and conflict.

The film is the remake of the 2010 Telugu film Prasthanam, which was written and directed by Deva Katta. Katta has written and helmed the Hindi film as well with adapted screenplay and dialogues by Farhad Samji. The film stays true to the original in terms of the plot except that this story is set in Uttar Pradesh. Given how important politics plays in that part of the country, Lucknow seems like the perfect setting. The story is definitely engaging, but the screenplay drags at places. The dialogue is too filmy and stale in current time. At some places they even elicit laughter, not sure if that was the intention. There are also a few cinematic liberties taken that stick out like a sore thumb. The film is set in Lucknow, but the fact that there is a chase sequence shot in Haji Ali and an important fight scene on railway tracks that clearly indicate it is Mumbai, should have been avoided. The power of the story lies in its characters and some of the characters are not as fleshed out as the others. Therefore the relationship between the characters and motives behind their actions leave a lot to be desired. The film has a runtime of 141 minutes which therefore becomes tedious, especially when there songs are infused into the narrative, bearing no consequence to the story. If the songs were avoided, Prassthanam could have been a much tighter and grittier film. 

We see sparks of vintage Sanjay Dutt in the performance and he is brilliant especially in the dramatic scenes. It is heartening to watch him just as we have known him over the years- a powerful, controlled and commanding actor. Manisha Koirala as Saroj and Jackie Shroff as Badshah are important characters but their roles could have been better written. Both are terrific actors and it would have been worthwhile if there were meatier scenes for them. Given what they were offered, they are good as usual. Chunky Panday as Bajwa Khatri plays his part well. He has indeed discovered the baddie in him and we hope that he explores more roles with a mean streak. Ali Fazal as Aayush is a treat to watch. He plays his character with all heart. He has one of the strongest written parts and he makes full use of it. In the emotional scenes, he excels. Satyajeet Dubey as Vivaan does a good job for the most part, but he does get over the top sometimes. Chahat Khanna as Palak is okay. Amyra Dastur as Shivi has nothing much to do.

Verdict: A Treat For Sanjay Dutt Fans! 

Rating: **1/2


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