It is perhaps but an error of understanding when exaggeration is thought to be extravaganza. Pitiful though is the effect. Worse when you realise that this has been already been tried out (and successfully at that) in Tamil already.
The justifiably sparse audience is treated to a ‘sportsfiction’ of one-man heroics – the hero, Sundeep, on whose skill sets a team game depends and succeeds. Films based on sport have a committed viewership – Iqbal, Chak De, Lagaan, and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag come to keep the audience interested and glued. This time around, the audience is just waiting for Dinesh Jeevan Kannukolam to fast forward you to the thematically predictable finale where obviously success is the inbuilt warranty laboriously styled for the film.
The average Telugu viewer is no moron. Only he has been historically treated as one. Our filmmakers shop for cameras, choreographers and photographers – not for ideas and thoughts. Every Friday we have a hero in love, every Friday he runs into the reluctant heroine, and woos her in a manner socio-legally no longer acceptable. He is either a police officer or a nogooder depending on which Friday he arrives.
Now to the present. Sundeep (Sundeep Kishan) lands in Yanam (why Yanam? Why not Yanam?). In here is Sports Minister Ramesh (Rao Ramesh) who is the bad guy. Telugu film characters can be characterised by how they are introduced. If they are depicted dramatically getting off a posh car – feet first, dark glasses, etc., then, you sure know he is a bad guy. So is it with the Minister. He abets a pharma company to grab the local hockey stadium. The hockey coach Murali (Murali Sharma) is its watchdog and a zealous protector of the game at the local level.
Enters Sundeep with all the cinematographic fanfare into Yanam. Lo and behold, he falls in love with local hockey enthusiastic girl, Lavanya (Lavanya Tripathi). Initial rejection leads but to romantic acceptance, rivalry by a ‘no-chance’ competitor. Sundeep has a sidekick Satya (Satya Akula) now for support, just as he had Priyadarshi and Rahul Ramakrishna in the past. He shuns hockey. Why? That is the seemingly intriguing peep into the past. Finally how the hero outsmarts the evil combo of the corporate and the political big wigs is what A 1 Express offers.
This is a poor go at cinema. What is Lavanya Tripathi doing in the film? Is she still at the stage where she cannot choose? Can she not say no to a script? Murali and ever dependable Rao Ramesh try their best to inject credibility. The script is too weak to help. The film has a single establishment – Sundeep Kishan. It is obvious that he has trained and made an effort. He is good both in the regular romantic mould and when called upon to do the action role. A1 Express is no good to the sports lover. Watching replays of old games is a better alternative. Go for it only if you want to duck the Montera happening or are a Sundeep Kishan fan.