Three petty criminals kidnap a little boy hoping to get a hefty ransom from his rich father. This trope has been used multiple times in Telugu cinema. These kinds of scenes set up an opportunity for the hero to have an action-packed fight scene. But what if this is the entire premise and the kid is the protagonist? This would have been an outlandish idea to be presented to Telugu audiences who consumed commercial cinema back in the 90s.
Back then, Telugu audiences were not accustomed to a single-genre film. To remake or adapt any film into another language, it is vital to bring in cultural nuances so that the audience can connect to it. The Nagarjuna-Akhil Akkineni starrer Sisindri, adapted from the superhit Baby’s Day Out, checked all the right boxes, and embellished it with extra touches of drama, song-and-dance and a separate comedy track. The film was released in 1995, and even after 25 years, it remains entertaining and evokes nostalgia.
We are introduced to the three klutzy thieves who are celebrated by fellow prisoners for getting arrested for the 100th time. The tone and the background of the characters is neatly set up. We know that these are a bunch of street-smart guys; they’re not evil but do what they do for money. Baby Sisindri is born with a silver spoon and is showered with love from his parents. We see Shivaji, Sisindri’s uncle, who is a spendthrift and is jealous of his brother. Shivaji hires these thieves to abduct Sisindri, but they decide to contact the toddler’s father themselves to get more money. Almost half an hour into the film, there’s a catchy song introduction and we see Nagarjuna as Raja, a car mechanic who repairs the thieves’ getaway van and immediately takes a liking to the toddler without knowing he has been kidnapped. The film takes its time to set up all the characters and events with the required drama and comedy.
The actual fun begins when the baby starts wandering off from the guys, and remembers the pictures he has seen in a photo album. The guys going after the baby to bring him back ends up as a great premise for goofy situational comedy. The baby has the time of his life, but the thieves end up hilariously bruised.
Giri Babu, Tanikella Bharani and Sudhakar as the three foolish thieves evoke big laughs. Aamani and Sarath Babu as Sisindri’s parents are convincing and the emotional moments hit hard. Nagarjuna does his bit to lend the film some fun and action. The show stealer, however, is Akhil Akkineni as baby Sisindri. Credit must be given to director Shiva Nageswara Rao for capturing the ‘I got you’ laughs, sobs and squirms from the toddler. Among the songs, ‘Chinni Tandri’ stands out and also gives you an idea about Sisindri’s world beautifully.
A very interesting angle in the film is the portrayal of animals. Brownie, the family pet, looks after Sisindri and even tries to convey to the parents when it encounters the kidnapped Sisindri by chance. Like in the original, here too, the baby is seen inside a gorilla’s cage, albeit at the circus, and the animal is compassionate to the child and keeps the kidnappers at bay. It even rescues Raja and Sisindri.
An elaborate stretch is shown where the three kidnappers are made to execute circus stunts when in captivity; this also metaphorically represents how animals are made to perform feats when locked up. In the end, Raja asks Sarath to give his reward to the circus owner and free the animals.
It is said that profit from the film was used to fund Blue Cross Hyderabad, established by Akhil’s mother Amala Akkineni for the welfare of animals. That message was effortlessly integrated into the film too.