'Major', produced by Sony Pictures, GMB Entertainment and A+S Movies, hit the cinemas today.
The film is told as a biographical action drama. Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan (Adivi Sesh) sets his eyes on one goal: He wants to become a soldier. After the Navy rejects his application, Sandeep goes on to join the Army. Thanks to his natural flair for stratagems, he becomes a trainer of the elite National Security Guards.
After the Mumbai 26/11 Attacks commence, Sandeep leads an NSG operation to finish the Jihadi terrorists. This is also when his relationship with his wife Isha (Saiee Manjrekar) threatens to crumble. Meanwhile, his parents (Prakash Raj and Revathi) are hoping that he will return. But martyrdom awaits Sandeep, the patriot par excellence.
Adivi Sesh has shown thoughtful self-immersion yet again. His performance may not be as nimble as it was in 'Evaru', but it is definitely among his top 3 performances. He shows pride, focus, and joy, lending dignity to onscreen heroism.
Saiee was underwhelming 'Ghani', her first Telugu film. And she is no different here. The actress has a lot of catching up to do. She looks more emotional than is required in most of her scenes. Sobhita Dhulipala as Pramoda, a hostage, blends naturalism with cinematic performance. Murali Sharma as the titular character's boss is not exceptional but very likeable.
Prakash Raj and Revathi, who play the protagonist's parents, sound like real parents. But the former is overdramatic at times.
The background score feels sophisticated where required. But composer Sricharan Pakala fails to get rid of the loudness factor in some stretches. This is something that action films involving gunshots are prone to do. 'Hrudayama', rendered by Sid Sriram, is poetic. 'Oh Isha' feels rather unnecessary.
Cinematographer Vamsi Patchipulusu, before graduating to the top role in the camera department with 'Evaru', got to work on 'Kshanam' and 'Goodachari'. The director of photography marshals his general experience as well as specific experience here. Editors Vinay Kumar Sirigineedi and Kodati Pavan Kalyan do a passable job.
More than editing, this film needed to get production design and action choreography right. Action directors Sunil Rodrigues, Nabha and Robin Subbu should have done a far better job. The action scenes are pretty much run-of-the-mill in the film. As for the sets, Avinash Kolla's work is commendable. The Taj Mahal hotel was studied and recreated painstakingly; the stairs are many, the theatre of action is specific.
Running away from the war zone is not Plan B, says Major Sandeep in the course of the film under review. He is a commanding soldier who is also a mini thought leader. That's how writer-actor Adivi Sesh pens the protagonist's character. He makes it all about Sandeep. Just so that we are invested enough in his journey, he lets every second character in the movie talk about or talk for Sandeep.
This would have been standard fare had Sandeep been a fictional character. But since he is a martyr we all feel proud of (his heroic exploits during the Mumbai 26/11 Attacks are well documented), the writing seems to be doing what is needed. That said, the film should have explored a lot of what went into planning the anti-terror operations, and the sacrifices made by a few other NSG commandoes (and 11 policemen) during the attacks.
'Major' squanders away precious screen time in establishing the boyish and gentle persona of Sandeep in the first half. The romantic track is spectacularly boring. The dialogues don't flesh out the love. The non-linear narration smuggles in the relationship drama between husband and wife in the second half. It comes amid the terror attacks and is a huge letdown in terms of emotional impact.
The last 30 minutes had the potential to inject intelligent action moments. Nothing of that sort happens. The good part comes in the final stretches where Prakash Raj's character mouths some touching lines.
The mother-son, father-son sentiment seems heavy-duty. The film doesn't touch upon the politics of the day and how Sandeep saw the politicization of terror attacks. But it makes use of the notorious Barkha Dutt episode; the journalist, who was working with NDTV at that time, revealed the movements of soldiers, thereby indirectly helping Pakistan-based terror masterminds.
The film would have been far better had the love scenes and the marital discord scenes been well told. There are one too many stale elements in the first half. Even the conversations between family members are so routine. The action scenes are not great either.