V Review – A flabby, unintelligent crime thriller

Srivathsan Nadadhur

V is a very unlikely Mohana Krishna Indraganti film and probably the filmmaker’s most flamboyant outing to date. The opening shot signals the arrival of DCP Aditya in the middle of a communal riot with a thud on the car glass – that’s massy enough for a start. This is followed by a pacy action sequence where Aditya rips apart his uniform to showcase his chiselled body while simultaneously gifting a barrage of bullets to the miscreants. He’s got the medals to prove his worth and enjoys being the poster boy of the police department.

Aditya has got the killer moves on the dance floor; he grooves to a lavish party number alongside an aspirant crime writer Aparna Ramanujan. There’s a gradual reveal of the supposed antagonist V after a smoke wave recedes with a panache, building the aura of the character. There’s some enjoyable old-fashioned dialogue baazi when V says, ‘Nyayanni, dharmanni kapadadaniki vastunnavante whistles veyadaniki nenu nee fan kadu raa’. While these elements would have been unnoticed in a regular masala potboiler, it’s extremely surprising that there’s space for such indulgence in the universe of a film helmed by Indraganti.

The film is a cat-and-mouse chase between V and Aditya, the former being on a murderous spree and the cop just not being lucky enough to catch up with him. V tries to play mind games with Aditya in a pattern largely reminiscent of Hrithik Roshan’s ways in Dhoom 2. In a clear case of the antagonist suffering from verbal diarrhoea, he keeps engaging in empty talk with the cop without any purpose. Nani, completely miscast in the role, tries too hard to come off as the cool baddie who’s overconfident of himself.  The role merited a star, a crowd-pleaser who could distract the viewer from the cheesiness in his dialogues and Nani lacks that persona and looks extremely out of place.

V is partially enjoyable when it takes off on a glitzy note, though the narrative doesn’t take much time to go downhill, with the romance between Aditya and the crime writer turning out to be a snooze fest.  Sudheer Babu fits his part like a T, but the focus of the film is lost in glorifying its lead characters and none of the other supporting parts has any say in the proceedings. The filmmaker reiterates the crookedness of V in umpteen number of sequences and the mind games between the cop and the killer fail to create any excitement. The purpose behind V’s actions is revealed much later in a patience-tester of a flashback.

The problem with a role like V is the lack of conviction in the characterisation and his antagonism. Despite all the grey shades, there’s a desperate attempt to make him feel likeable and goody. Why do you always need a sob flashback to justify his evil actions? Why can’t V be naturally conniving? The only character that has some meat in the film is the cop role played by Sudheer Babu. Otherwise, the blandness in the storytelling is very evident and it’s all the more disheartening to notice that given the film’s capable team.

What were Nivetha Thomas and Aditi Rao Hydari doing beyond being arm candies to the male leads? The chemistry between Aditi and Nani is zilch and the romantic portions are neither funny nor possess any emotional depth. Indraganti pulls out all the stops to resurrect the film with a decent climactic twist, but it’s too late to do any damage control. Several regulars in the director’s films including Tanikella Bharani, Naresh feature in nondescript roles.

Amit Trivedi’s music remains unmemorable and the repeated attempts to uplift average sequences with Thaman’s booming background score don’t yield expected results. Cinematographer PG Vinda and the production designer mount the film with such visual flair that they almost mask the shallowness of the plot. Yet, V is no sign for victory here and this is Indraganti’s weakest work by a fair stretch.

(V is streaming on Amazon Prime Video)

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