Review: ‘Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire,’ starring Prabhas and Prithviraj Sukumaran

January 5, 2024

by Carla Hay

Prabhas and Prithviraj Sukumaran in “Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire” (Photo courtesy of Hombale Films)

“Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire”

Directed by Prashanth Neel

Telugu with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place from the 1127 to 2010, in India, in the United States, and in the fictional kingdom of Khansaar, the action film “Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire” features an Asian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: Two best friends, who were separated in childhood because of the social-class conflicts instigated by the father of one of the friends, reunite as adults in an international battle over Khansaar that has been raging for centuries.

Culture Audience: “Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire” will appeal primarily to people who are fans the movie’s headliners and action movies about power struggles and tribal feuds.

Shruti Haasan in “Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire” (Photo courtesy of Hombale Films)

Two best friends since childhood have their friendship tested, are estranged for a period of time, and eventually join forces in an international conflict over the control of a South Asian nation. It sounds a lot like 2022’s blockbuster hit “RRR,” but it’s not. “Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire” is not as fun to watch as “RRR,” but it’s got plenty of action and intrigue in this saga about two best friends caught up in personal and political power struggles. The plot gets convoluted, but the movie is packed with thrills.

Written and directed by Prashanth Neel, the story in “Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire” takes place over several centuries, beginning in the year 1127. Most of the action happens in the 20th century and 21st century in India, in the adjacent fictional kingdom Khansaar, and briefly in the United States. There’s a lot of jumping around in the timeline because of flashbacks.

The movie’s opening scene takes place in the year 1985, when best friends Devaratha “Deva” Shouryanga Raisaar (played by Videsh Anand) and Vardharaja “Vardha” Raja Mannar (played by Karthikeya Dev), who are both 10 years old, are living in Khansaar. Vardha’s cruel father Raja Mannar (played by Jagapathi Babu) is the leader of Khansaar and came to power by killing the previous king massacring an entire tribe of people.

Vardha has an older stepbrother named Rudra Raja Mannar (played by Harsh Roshan), from Raja’s previous marriage, who is in possession on a nose ring that can only be worn by rightful heirs to the Khansaar. Rudra tells Deva that in order for Vardha to get the nose ring, Deva must fight an adult man in a boxing ring. It’s set up to be an unfair fight, but Deva wins through some clever strategic moves, although he is badly wounded in the fight.

Rudra reluctantly gives Vardha the nose ring, but Deva and his parents are punished by being banished from Khansaar by Raja. The two friends are separated for years, but Deva vows to stay loyal to Vardha. They don’t see each other again until 2010, when they are both about 35 years old. Their reunion is not spoiler information, since it’s shown in the trailers for “Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire.”

The adult Deva, who is nicknamed Salaar (played by Prabhas) has become a fearless mercenary. The adult Vardha (played by Prithviraj Sukumaran) is a power struggle with Rudra (played as an adult by Ramachandra Raju) and older step-sister Radha Rama Mannar (played by Sriya Reddy). There’s also a subplot with a wealthy heiress named Aadhya Krishnakanth (played by Shruti Haasan), who escapes an attempted kidnapping by hiding out as a teacher at the middle school where Deva’s wdowed mother (playing by Easwari Rao) is the principal. Guess who’s going to be Deva’s love interest?

“Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire” doesn’t do anything surprising, and the acting performances are adequate. Where the movie stands out the most are in the action sequences, which are typically bonbastic and over-the-top, but are filmed in a way that is more artistic than the typical action film. There’s a very memorable sequence with Deva and machetes that is one of the more innovative aspects of the film. Viewers who can tolerate all bloody violence and the jumbled machinations involving several tribes and armies will find “Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire” an entertaining action film.

Hombale Films released “Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire” in U.S. cinemas and in India on December 22, 2023.

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