'Sridevi Soda Center' arrived at the cinemas today (August 27). In this section, we are going to talk about its hits and misses.
Lighting Sooribabu (Sudheer Babu) is neck-deep in love with Sodala Sridevi (Anandhi), a fellow villager in the East Godavari district. Their love doesn't get the approval of Sridevi's casteist father (played by Senior Naresh). Their love runs into trouble with Kasi (Pavel Navageethan), a violent and ruthless village head, who has started having feelings for Sridevi. Can the Sooribabu-Sridevi duo ever have a happy union?
Sudheer Babu has played the role of a lover boy caught trapped by the feudal system with aplomb. He brings out the intensity expected of a wronged man who is incarcerated over murder charges. Anandhi strikes the right chemistry with him. She gets to play a performance-oriented character, emoting well in the sentimental scenes.
Pavel Navageethan, the Tamil actor, somehow comes across as a Telugu actor in terms of looks. His performance in a brutal role is found wanting. VK Naresh gets to play a strongly written character. Raghu Babu, Satyam Rajesh, Ajay and others fit the bill.
Mani Sharma's songs are a mix of mass and class. While some of them would have suited a younger and less intense film better, they definitely contribute to the viewer's experience. Lensman Shamdat Sainuddin, who understands the landscape in which the film is set, passes muster. Aided by the artwork done by the Ramakrishna Sabbani-Monika duo, the cinematographer does an okayish job.
Writer-director Karuna Kumar is helped by a decent storyline. But the story development lacks even a semblance of effort to be refreshing. The film is an amalgamation of done-to-death tropes and old-fashioned scenes.
When you have a routine setup, you at least have to make an effort to come up with distinct characterizations. All that 'SSC' has to offer are outdated characterizations. Kasi is that boring villain who laughs menacingly. There is a twist involving him and it can be seen coming even in the first half.
Sudheer Babu, who flaunts his macho body in the boat-racing sequence, sustains some interest even when the scenes look hopelessly dated. The love scenes, where he has to woo Anandhi's Sridevi, seem to move at a slow pace even though they are interspersed with the villain's track in parallel.
None of these come with life: the backdrop of a religious ritual ('theertham'), the tempo for the fights, and the build-up to the climax. The fights, by the way, are vacuous. They don't make the audience root for Suribabu, who is a prisoner on the run, more than they would have had it not been for them. The film should have avoided the elementary action scenes. Instead, the focus should have been on elevating heroism through dialogues.
The climax is solid but the 15-minute stretch is not adequate to save the sinking ship called 'Sridevi Soda Centre'.
What could have been a gritty film turns out to be a half-hearted romantic-action drama with a whole bunch of dated elements.