Director: Gopichand Malineni
Cast: Ravi Teja, Shruti Haasan
Ravi Teja-starrer Krack is, perhaps, the first big-ticket Telugu film to hit theatres in a year. After the Sankranti battle between Sarileru Neekevvaru and Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo in 2020, no other film could manage to draw such hype before its release. Ah, well, most of it was generated yesterday, as the makers ran from pillar to post to ensure its smooth-screening throughout the country and the world. Better late than never, really!
It almost feels like a decade since Ravi Teja starred in a film that knew its purpose and ambition. After Kick (2009), he appeared in a slew of ordinary dramas that didn’t extract anything new from him. Of course, some of them were box office hits, but they were few and far between, and most of them were regular dishoom-dishoom ventures. But Krack is different, mainly because it feels different.
The hero, here, surely knows what he’s after and there are villains at every juncture who try to stop him. However, he sails to the shore without getting hurt much. Oh, these aren’t supposed to be considered spoilers — these are anyway the foundation on which Indian action films are built upon.
When Shankar (Ravi Teja) makes a grand entry, he’s seated behind his wife Kalyani (Shruti Haasan) on a motorbike. It’s a sleight-of-hand trick that introduces all the family members at once — the father, the mother, and the son. While he wants her to slow down, the son wants her to gear up. What follows is a collection of humorous scenes that sets up the home-life of a police officer, who deals with criminals from morning to night.
Telugu filmmakers have a tendency to dig into the meet-cute episode featuring the protagonists. They don’t rely upon their abilities to present them as a married couple with a child. They somehow rewind the clock and make space for a courtship song. Do they get nightmares if they fail to brush through the falling-in-love montage? It doesn’t come across as a barrier, but haven’t we moved past the necessity to include that particular trope?
Oh, and speaking of tropes, Krack has cracked a modern template with the help of its main source of inspiration — the Kannada thriller Tagaru (2018). For Tagaru, director Soori made the hero (also, a cop) kill the antagonists first and then let the screenplay flow towards the reasons behind the blood-thirsty revenge tale. Krack, on the other hand, doesn’t do that directly. It takes a magnanimous chunk from that fresh narrative device and twists it a bit. The villains, who are equally nasty and powerful in the Telugu movie, are shown as prisoners in the opening scenes. It’s a gentle reminder to tell you that Shankar has already done his work. The thugs are not going to come out and do something stupid to massage their egos.
The segment related to the terrorist Saleem Bhatkal (Chirag Jani) is more or less the prologue. He’s not the Sun around which Krack revolves. That honour belongs to Katari Krishna (Samuthirakani). Even Krishna is housed in the central jail. The film, therefore, is about how they end up in prison. This is the Tagaru template!
Although Krishna gets a man murdered within the first hour and Shankar tries to piece the clues together, it’s not a whydunit since we get all the answers beforehand. It is not a grand whodunit either. Everything is straightened out for the viewers. We don’t have to bite our nails while sitting through the proceedings. But it’s still a thriller because many surprises pop up at random places. Moreover, the surprises are about the principal characters themselves.
And since the entire movie is set a decade earlier, the passage of time is shown through the movie posters that adorn the walls of the cities that Krack is set in — Ongole, Kurnool, Kadapa, and Vetapalem. Additionally, Jayamma (Varalaxmi Sarathkumar), another rowdy in Krishna’s den, is a film-buff who watches all the latest releases in theatres. These are truly great touches considering this is a mainstream masala entertainer.
Coming back to the idea of inspirations, director Gopichand Malineni has significantly borrowed from the Tamil film Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru (2017), as well. The members of a dacoity gang — whom Shankar searches for — go on all fours as though they are a pack of wolves and mercilessly attack people. If you remember Theeran, you’ll be able to see the similarities.
If there’s one major grouse I have against Krack, it is the casting of Samuthirakani as the prime antagonist. It’s well recorded in the books of Tamil cinema that he’s a fine actor. But when it comes to Telugu movies, his face doesn’t accommodate the same kind of ferociousness. His inability to emote in another language may be putting a spoke in his wheel. If P Ravi Shankar, who also has a starring role, had taken his place instead, it’d have been amazing.