Director: Siddharth Thatholu
Cast: Ajmal Ameer, Srikanth Iyengar
Released with much fanfare amidst controversy and censorship, ARKB is a fictional story set in the backdrop of Andhra Pradesh’s political landscape. The word fictional is a bit of a stretch, because the characters are inspired by the leaders of the State. This film is the exact opposite of Ram Gopal Varma‘s Rakta Charitra, which called itself a “a true story depicted using fictional characters”.
The film is about how a newly-elected Chief Minister and his people claim the capital city, which is still under the control of the party that lost the election. Former Chief Minister Babu wants to somehow wrest power, while new CM VS Jagannatha Reddy refuses to budge.
This subject makes an interesting premise, but only on paper. The first half is filled with recreations of the real events that inspired this film. Director Siddhartha Thatholu manages to showcase the power struggle between factions, but only up to a point. Ravi Shankar’s over-the-top background music and a routine chase sequence lead us to a gripping RGV-style interval.
But, the only thing I enjoyed in the second half was my popcorn. The seriousness of the first half is sidetracked, and you are expected to leave your brains behind, especially when you see a comedy track and an item number. This film hovers somewhere between a conspiracy thriller and a political satire, and does not do justice to either genre.
One thing that deserves appreciation, though, is the attention to detail in casting, especially when it comes to resemblance to the real-life personality. One performance that stayed with me was Srikanth Iyengar as Dayaneni Rama. An actor such as Kathi Mahesh is cast in a role that’s redundant. When a brilliant comedian like Brahmanadam comes on screen, the BGM creates the impression he’s here to play someone important, but it leads to nothing. The director does create anticipation, but it never leads to anything.
Amidst this mundane mess, RGV (who has co-written the film) squeezes in some time for self-aware jokes, a cameo and an epilogue where he says what he has been saying for years. That people discuss cinema gossip and politics seriously just for some entertainment. He might have very well tweeted this, because the film does not do a good job of it. This film makes even Lakshmi’s NTR, Vangaveeti and all other low-budget flops of RGV’s look good.