V (Amazon Prime)
Starring Nani,Sudheer Babu,Nivetha Thomas,Aditi Rao Hydari
Written & Directed by Mohana Krishna Indraganti,
Rating: *** ½
It is appalling how the language of the Great Indian Masala Dossier is looked down upon as an inferior brand of cinema by some critics, just because it engages the audience without the conventional tropes of “serious” cinema, such as a brooding melancholic background score and actors who look like they could do with a bath and a stiff vodka.
V is drunk on drollery. It is a conventional streetwise sassy savvy potboiler with no claims to being anything else. Within the restrictions of its genre V is masterclass in mass entertainment. The story of the serial killer and the cop , here played by Nani and Sudheer Babu, has been done to bludgeoning death. But seldom with such vivacity vigour and humour rendering the violence more comic bookish than real, more rumbustious than raw.
Nani’s cop-baiting killer act is a jaw-dropping winner. He is cool brash and sometimes brutal . But he also has a sense of humour. In my favourite sequence the killer Vishnu(Nani) travels on a bus with an elderly man who is watching the brutal Korean serial-killer film I Saw the Devil on his phone.
The way Vishnu convinces his petrified co-passenger that the killer instinct exists in every individual , is a masterstroke of writing.Elsewhere before ruthlessly slitting a victim’s throat Nai discusses the cinema of K Raghvendra Rao with the trembling victim.
I saw skilled writing in many places .Alas, much of the taut treatise on sporty slaying comes undone in the second-to-last act when all hell breaks loose.A communal riot, a pretty victim(Aditi Rao Hyderi) , an act of retribution… and voila! The killer is not a serial killer after all, but something else.
This turning back costs the narrative heavily in terms of credibility. But writer-director Mohana Krishna Indraganti manages to stop the plot from dead-ending in a stumble and a fall to the ground with a last-act confrontation between Nani and Sudheer Babi (shot on a scenic sea-facing location) which, like much of the rest of the film,is skillfully written ,handsomely shot and effectively directed.
I also liked Sudheer’s courtship with the attractive Nivetha Thomas. It is adeptly woven into the thriller and could be considered the comic relief in the tense drama, were it not for the fact that Nani’s track as the in the thriller is inherently laced with a wicked humour that I have not seen applicable to death since Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron and Death Becomes Her.
Not quite the film that you would love to death , V nonetheless maintains a firm grip over the grammar of giggly gore, letting go only towards the end but catching the beast before it falls to the ground.