From love triangles, tragedy, woman suffering tales, and family dramas, Telugu cinema now catches up with “catch the terrorist”. Inspired by real events (read India’s Most Wanted) Wild Dog deals with the NIA getting the better of a wanted terrorist. In a cinematic drama of this genre, facts and history do get blurred at the pedestal of thrill and entertainment.
Unlike India’s Most Wanted (Raj Kumar Gupta) starring Arjun Kapoor, the script here (written by director Ashishor Solomon and Kiran Kumar) is far tighter. It does not deal with the families and the route to terrorism. We globally have positioned ourselves in the convenient slot where the mass killer needs to be killed. No question asked. No explanations offered. Historically, law too, like the terrorist, may not want to leave a clue behind.
Vijay Varma (Nagarjuna) has lost his daughter to the Gokul Chaat bomb blast. He and his wife Priya (Dia Mirza) live in a cocooned withdrawal. Something is brewing and the Intelligence smells it. DIG Hemanth (Atuk Kulkarni) walks in to get ‘Wild Dog’ (Vijay Varma) back into action. He is certified to be the best in the game at NIA.
The script now has two sets of people – the police (NIA) with team members Ali Reza (Ali Reza), Rudra Goud (Prakash Sudarshan), Hashwant Manohar (Pradeep Reddy) and Caleb Mathew (Mayank Parakh) and on the other side we have the terrorists most of who are look-alikes and stereotyped into long unkept beards in pathan outfits and hungry eyes. By about half time, they nearly have their man Khalid (Bilal Hossain) but too early, so he gives them a slip and moves to Khatmandu. From Hyderabad to Mumbai to Khatmandu are the terrorist junctions for the most wanted. Vijay Varma gets suspended and his team dispirited.
Enter Arya Pundit (Saiyami Kher), a RAW inspector in Khatmandu. She takes the assistance of local inspector Lakshman (Kelly Dorji) to nab the culprit. However, Khalid has his contacts with the top political bigwigs, including minister Mirza Baig (Avijit Dutt). It is at a wedding at the minister’s house that the finale gets kick-started leading finally to how the team headed by the Wild Dog succeeds in bringing the terrorist home.
Even as you get into the comfort of your seats, the script heads straight to shootouts aplenty, punches and wrestling, some shots in the Old City, some templates from Mumbai and off to Khatmandu. Rough terrains constitute a nice backdrop to this terror drama where cinematographer Shaneil Deo plays as important a role as a stuntman does to keep the viewer engrossed.
Debutant director Ashishor Solomon shines with promise. Yes, templates aplenty, clichés galore help push the straight jacket perception of scheming terrorists and brave heart policemen. The cast disappoints. Most of them have wooden expressions in the name of carrying a macho image. Prim beyond his age, Nagarjuna is physically well-prepared for the role. Interesting that film producer Niranjan Reddy digs into politico-patriotic history and invests. Remember he had an interesting outing with Ghazi, and earlier Gaganam. In the air, under water and now the rough terrains. The investments by the young filmmaker seem to be studied. Elsewhere, he has a reputation of being thoroughly professional. Obviously garnering a similar space here too.
In terms of product at Telugu cinema, its style quotient is high, temperamentally well-balanced. It also does away with the usual song and dance scenes or sidekick humour. It is arguably the best that’s reached the theatres in the post-Covid scenario. Go for it if you like thrillers.
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