- Platform: Disney+Hotstar
- Release date: 02/12/2021
- To throw: Nandamuri Balakrishna, Pragya Jaiswal, Jagapathi Babu, Meka Srikanth
- Director: Boyapati Srinu
Murali, a philanthropist and protector of the people in his constituency, is gravely wronged and imprisoned by nefarious people who mine uranium in his area, causing widespread destruction, disease and death. Once Murali is imprisoned, the villains all come to shoot his family and all the people who helped him in his efforts to thwart their evil plans. Little did they know that Murali had a twin brother who was handed over to the Aghoris by their parents at birth and who now controls certain superhuman abilities he acquired with his years of worship and devotion to the Mahakal. Akhanda enters Murali’s world and everything is changed for good.
Nandamuri Balakrishna is visibly 60 years old and plays a single 30-year-old Murali who should have been played by someone who at least looked like a 30-year-old man. Balakrishna looks older than the man playing his father in the film and still has the audacity to launch into an elegantly choreographed dance-song routine, “Jai balayya” where his drooping shoulders and withered frame do not cannot be camouflaged by the attenuated dance. movements and hyper editing.
Murali is portrayed as someone who inspires romantic feelings in an incredibly handsome IAS officer played by Pragya Jaiswal who goes out of his way to impress him. This is laughable to any thinking public. Whenever the two are in the same setting, the age gap between the two is obvious and pronounced in that it not only destroys any chemistry the two are trying to conjure up, but also pokes fun at the whole situation. , making it clumsy. . This isn’t the first time male actors have romanticized women half their age, but in this case it seems more pronounced than some of the other cases, which adds to the weirdness of the situation. Interestingly, everything that goes against the Balakrishna in his portrayal of Murali becomes his greatest strength when he sinks his teeth into Akhanda’s character.
While Murali is in captivity, the villains attempt to murder his entire family, but by chance his wife, Pragya Jaiswal, and their young daughter end up in Akhanda’s bed who quickly and skillfully kills all the goons who were after the life. of Pragya and her daughter. Following this, Akhanda enters the world his brother had protected and nurtured all these years and quickly begins to deliver his brand of justice to men who wish to destroy it. This not only rattles Murali’s enemies, but also drives them to pursue him with whatever they have at their disposal. This ensures that the second half of the film is practically one action sequence after another with Balakrishna dispatching evil men to their final destination in terrific style and with a punchy background score from S. Thaman pulsing in the background.
As I was watching this 2 hour and 47 minute film, something interesting occurred to me. It wasn’t a movie I should have enjoyed but I was having a great time with it. The story was archaic and reminded me of the badly made Bollywood masala pots of the 1980s. The hero was a falling old man with not a single heroic trait that we associate with heroism and yet every time he went out to the screen, I couldn’t help but burst into loud cheers along with the rest of the audience. The villains were the exaggerated caricatures of every possible evil trait and were bad in certain situations just to be bad. The hero, on the other hand, was pristine in every possible way. There was no duality in any of the characters. It’s a film where the people are white or black. The film’s only strong female character starts off as strong and independent, but halfway through the film, she loses her voice and never finds it again. With all of that and more, I shouldn’t have enjoyed this movie as much as I did. So what clicked for me?
After much deliberation, I think it was the obviousness of the whole movie and the acceptance of the character that was the number one thing that made this movie unassuming and hugely fun. The next thing that made it so fun was its unapologetic and aggressive execution and portrayal of heroes and villains. The bad guys are shown doing terrible things that instantly make them hateful and we want to see them die. There are also a lot of those villains who oppose the hero so that he doesn’t quickly run out of men to kill in the second half and a character as big as Murali is under considerable threat and requires the intervention of a superhuman like Akhanda.
The biggest sentiment the movie addresses is that we’re all sick of being wronged in one way or another in real life. We always love to see some of these wrongs righted, albeit in the most outrageous and out of this world way. That’s what we get here. Akhanda gives us top notch wish fulfillment and that is what makes it so alluring and exciting. Coming to the film’s protagonist, Balakrishna sheds all his inhibitions and garish makeup and disappears behind Akhanda’s skin. His appearance and mannerisms suit the character and the fact that he is portrayed as someone who is tattooed, unkempt and almost animalistic, which is fine for the age he is in. He plays a man his own age as Akhanda and he does. with a stunning and almost unbelievable physique.
Credit must be given to how the action sequences are shot, edited and scored. S. Thaman’s score is once again something that dramatically elevates the appeal and enjoyment of action sequences. The film’s appeal is also based on the fact that Akhanda is a superhuman and the embodiment of all that is designed to destroy evil. This aspect is represented through the larger-than-life action sets where we see him dispatch men in hordes and even transform into an almost divine avatar. It kills the main villains in the most innovative way possible and each of these kills is met with thunderous applause from the audience documenting the successful execution of what the director, Boyapati Srinu, set out to achieve.
I remember watching Boyapati Srinu Sarrainodu featuring Allu Arjun during my trip on one of the buses that shuttle between Guwahati and Silchar. It was just as loud and crude in its treatment of its subject matter as Akhanda, but it was just as gripping. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen as Gana’s story unfolded in all its ferocity and unforced comedy through the part involving Brahmanand. It was also a movie that felt like two different movies between the first and second half. I got a very similar vibe from Akhanda except for an Aghori taking center stage instead of a well-groomed young man beating the pulp of the bad guys. Sarrainodu would match Akhanda’s deafening tone and outrageous physique if he were coke rich.
Akhanda is an outstanding artist who appeals to the hidden desire to be a hero and a protector in all of us. He knows not to take himself seriously. More importantly, his aging hero leads everyone to believe that even the most unassuming, least hero-like individual can be the most delightful hero if fate wills it. This is what makes viewers dream with the director and which is also the basis of Akhanda’s success in just a few weeks.
Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 stars)
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