Bheemla Nayak (Disney+Hotstar)

Starring Pawan Kalyan, Rana Daggubati, Nithya Menen ,Samyuktha Menon

Directed by Saagar K Chandra

Rating: ** ½

Pawan Kalyan and Rana Daggubati are not great actors by any yardstick. Yet they manage to hold their own in this brave and commendable remake of the Malayalam hit Ayyappanum Koshiyum.Prithviraj and Biju Menon who played the two roles in the original are much more accomplished actors. They made the Malayalam film something extra-special with their kickass confrontational collisions.

While Prithiviraj and Biju Menon played it more intellectually, the clash between sub-inspector Bheemla Nayak(Pawan Kalyan) and a powerful well-connected local goon Danny Shekar(Rana Daggubati) is far more physical here. They are well-matched physically and emotionally: while Nayak loves his wife(Nithya Menon) immensely, Danny is as devoted a husband to a woman(Samyuktha Menon) whom his father(Samuthirakani) puts down on any pretext.

What I had liked immensely in the original and this factor remains intact even in the remake, is that both the hero and villain have shades of good and bad. It is therefore not easy to take sides. Although Pawan Kalyan being the star that he is, he smartens up his character more than required, Daggubati succeeds in making Daniel more likeable less despicable.

While Biju Menon in Ayyappanum Koshiyum was an earthy rustic rough-edged havildar, Pawan Kalyan is far more urbane and decorous, almost a Brahminical poseur with a secretion of selfrighteouness which makes him appear a better human being than he actually is.

The nominally tense drama has its moments. But eventually it becomes just another cat-and-mouse game between the two lead actors who don’t seem to have fun with their roles though they are clearly meant to.

It is interesting to see the two female protagonists as more than mere hand-wrenching damsels in distress. Nithya Meon is delightfully spunky as Pawan Kalyan’s wife. That the script allows her space to remain active in the plot till the end, is remarkable, given the musk of masculinity that the proceedings project .

It all begins when Danny and his faithful driver cross the Andhra and Telangana border with too much liquour in their car. A minor offence blows up into a major fracas between the cop and the offender with both men using every arsenal in their armoury to get the better of the other. Much of the action is impressively choreographed . The dialogues bristle with undercurrents of class conflict/.

Really, I have seldom seen Pawan Kalyan so subdued in expressing aggression. By the end of the clenched conflict, it is no longer relevant who wins. Both the cop and the offender, says the narrative,are too immersed in their own ego to give fairplay a chance.

Though not half as well executed as the original, Bheemla Nayak is selfassured enough in its adaptive modalities to keep you watching even when it slips up at some crucial plot points ,it manages to get by.