Review: ‘Amigos’ (2023), starring Nandamuri Kalyan Ram

February 18, 2023

by Carla Hay

Nandamuri Kalyan Ram in “Amigos” (Photo courtesy of Mythri Movie Makers)

“Amigos” (2023)

Directed by Rajendra Reddy

Telugu with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in India, the action film “Amigos” features a predominantly Indian cast of characters (with some black people) representing the working-class, middle-class and criminal underground.

Culture Clash: After a man meets two of his biologically unrelated look-alikes, he finds out that one of them is a notorious criminal who is a fugitive from authorities. 

Culture Audience: “Amigos” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching far-fetched action movies where everything is repetitive and predictable.

Nandamuri Kalyan Ram and Ashika Ranganath in “Amigos” (Photo courtesy of Mythri Movie Makers)

An action movie about unrelated look-alikes and mistaken identities usually has only two characters with this problem. “Amigos” has three characters who are unrelated look-alikes, which just makes this muddled story become increasingly doltish. And with a total running time of 137 minutes, “Amigos” is just too long for a movie with a very thin and silly plot.

“Amigos” is the feature-film debut of writer/director Rajendra Reddy, who copies so many other Bollywood action films in having the same soundtrack-blaring tone as characters have simple-minded conversations and go from one ridiculous scenario to the next, with some musical numbers thrown into the mix. “Amigos” is just more of the same mind-numbing regurgitation about doppelganger misadventures, with the only novelty being that it’s about three look-alikes instead of the usual two. The movie could have done a lot of interesting things with this concept. Instead, it’s just mindless mush that drags on until the very predictable end.

In “Amigos” (which takes place in various cities in India), a “regular guy” named Siddharth (played by Nandamuri Kalyan Ram), nicknamed Siddhu, works with his uncle (played by Brahmaji) in a family-owned land development business based in Hyderabad, India. Siddhu finds out about a popular website called, where people can find their biologically unrelated look-alikes. The movie has montages showing that it’s become a fad for people to post social media photos and videos of people meeting their look-alikes from around the world. Siddhu soon gets caught up in this fad, for better or worse.

The “better” part happens when he meets two men on who look exactly like him (except for their hairstyles and how they dress) but all three men have very different personalities from each other. Manjunath Hegde (also played by Ram) is a nerdy and brilliant software engineer/computer programmer from the city of Bangalore. Michael (also played by Ram), who likes to wear sunglasses and habitually smokes cigarettes, is a mysterious “tough guy” from the city of Kolkata. All three men meet in person in Goa and become fast friends.

The movie takes an awfully long time in showing montages of Siddhu, Manjunath and Michael going on adventurous trips together. While Siddhu and Manjunath tell each other that they feel like they are brothers, Michael isn’t as open about his feelings. He remains a little more emotionally guarded than the other two newfound pals. “Amigos” does a terrible job of creating suspense, because it’s obvious that Michael has secrets that he’s trying to hide.

“Amigos” spends a lot of time time on a subplot about how the three look-alikes use their physical resemblances to help Siddhu court a hard-to-please love interest named Ishika (played by Ashika Ranganath), who has a specific list of what she wants in a potential husband. Siddhu fulfills only part of her list of requirements. And so, Siddhu asks his look-alike new best friends to pretend to be him whenever he needs to impress Ishika in a specific way.

Ishika wants a highly intelligent man (which is where Manjunath comes in handy) and a man with great physical strength and bravado, which is where Michael is helpful. The Siddhu look-alikes pretend to be Siddhu when Ishika gives various tests to see if “Siddhu” meets her requirements. It’s really an idiotic scheme to deceive Ishika this way because Siddhu can only keep up the charade for a limited period of time, since his look-alikes can’t always be around to pretend to be him.

The “worse” part of this doppelganger get-together comes when Siddhu and Manjunath find out that Michael is really a ruthless arms dealer named Bipin Roy, who is a fugitive from the National Investigation Agency (NIA). (This isn’t spoiler information, because this real identity is revealed in the movie’s trailer.) And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why he wanted to meet Siddhu and Manjunath: This criminal wants to steal their identities.

“Amigos” has these characters in chase scene after chase scene that don’t really further the story but just make the plot more tangled and ridiculous. The fight scenes aren’t believable at all. Some of the visual effects are adequate, but the rest of the visual effects are downright awful, because the cast members are obviously acting in front of a screen, not a real location.

Although he plays three different men in “Amigos,” Ram is mostly watchable as Siddhu. He portrays Manjunath in a bland and generic way. His depiction of Michael/Bipin is very cringeworthy as an over-the-top villain, including a very fake-sounding deep voice. The portrayal of Michael/Bipin is so terrible, viewers might be more likely to laugh at this character than feel like this character is menacing.

All of the other cast members give mediocre-to-bad performances, although Brahmaji seems to be doing the best he can in his comic relief role as Siddhu’s uncle. “Amigos” has the expected betrayals and fight scenes that all lead up to a very underwhelming and unimaginative ending. If “Amigos” were a baseball game, the mishandling of the “three look-alike friends” concept is not only fumbling the ball, but it’s also a complete “three strikes and you’re out” failure.

Mythri Movie Makers released “Amigos” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on February 10, 2023.

Review: ‘HIT: The 2nd Case,’ starring Adivi Sesh and Meenakshi Chaudhary

December 17, 2022

by Carla Hay

Adivi Sesh in “HIT: The 2nd Case” (Photo courtesy of Wall Poster Cinema)

“HIT: The 2nd Case”

Directed by Sailesh Kolanu

Telugu with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Visakhapatnam, India, the action film “HIT: The 2nd Case” features an all-Indian cast of characters representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A self-assured police detective goes on the hunt for a serial killer, who murders women and who leaves their body parts at the crime scenes were his other murder victims are found. 

Culture Audience: “HIT: The 2nd Case” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of “HIT: The First Case” and suspenseful movies about police investigations of serial killings.

Adivi Sesh and Meenakshi Chaudhary in “HIT: The 2nd Case” (Photo courtesy of Wall Poster Cinema)

“HIT: The 2nd Case” is a captivating thriller from beginning to end. It’s a winning example of a sequel that’s better than the original movie. The story’s mystery is wider in scope and told in a more compelling way than in “HIT: The First Case,” a movie originally released in 2020 as a Telugu-language film, and then remade as a Hindi-language film released in 2022. It’s also a great idea to make each “HIT” movie with a different detective protagonist.

“HIT” movie series creator Sailesh Kolanu has written and directed all the “HIT” movies so far. “HIT: The First Case” ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger for the movie’s protagonist, police inspector Vikram Rudraraju. “Vikram: The 2nd Case” has a brief mention of what happened to Vikram, but otherwise, it’s a completely separate story. What each “HIT” movie has common so far is that it’s a story about a hotshot investigator in a police department called Homicide Intervention Team (HIT) located somewhere in India.

“HIT: The 2nd Case” follows police inspector Krishna “KD” Dev (played by Adivi Sesh), as he investigates the case of a twisted serial killer who dismembers his victims and leaves their various body parts at the crime scene where the killer’s other victims have been found. All of the victims are women n their 20s and 30s. The first known victim is a woman in her 20s named Sanjana, whose torso has been found in Visakhapatnam, India. KD makes a promise to Sanjana’s devastated, widowed father (played by Tanikella Bharani) that he will find the killer and make sure that there is justice for Sanjana.

In “HIT: The First Case,” police protagonist Vikram had post-traumatic stress disorder. In “HIT: The 2nd Case,” KD doesn’t have any psychiatric issues that affect how he does his job. However, KD’s biggest weakness is his arrogance. Early on in the movie, KD tells a group of reporters who ask for his comments about an unrelated case where KD captured a man who killed his own brother: “Generally, these criminals are very dumb.” It’s a comment that will come back to haunt him when the serial killer does things to outsmart KD.

KD’s cockiness also shows in how unkind he is to one his female colleagues. His ex-girlfriend Varsha (played by Komalee Prasad) has been appointed as one of his subordinates. He tells Varsha: “Seeing your face is very annoying to me.” The movie never really goes into details over why Varsha and KD broke up, but it was a romance that obviously did not end well. KD is very unhappy that Varsha has been assigned to help him with this serial killer case. KD also has his trusty police dog, a German Shepherd named Max, who is a constant companion when KD is on duty.

Whatever negative feelings that KD has toward Varsha, they are in direct contrast to his adoration of his girlfriend Aarya (played by Meenakshi Chaudhary), who is a confident and independent feminist who also expects chivalry from men. When KD asks Aarya to move in with him, she’s reluctant at first because she doesn’t want to give up having her own place. But she eventually changes her mind, because she and KD are in love with each other and want to build a life together.

Aarya works at female empowerment center called HER Welfare Association, which helps female victims of domestic violence, and offers other female-oriented services. A flashback scene in the beginning of the movie shows how, 20 years earlier, women from HER Welfare Association staged protests in support of a woman named Jhansi (played by Neela Ramana), who accused her husband Ram Prasad Koduri (played by Harsha Vardhan) of raping her, after he caught her cheating on him with another man. The HER Welfare Association plays a prominent role in the story.

Other characters who are connected to this story include KD’s female police sidekick Shradda (played by Pavani, also known as Pavani Reddy); Sanjana’s roommate Rajitha (played by Divya Narni); Rajitha’s boyfriend Kumar (played by Suhas); Sanjana’s childhood friend Raghavudu (played by Majili Shiva); KD’s police colleague Abilash (played by Maganti Srinath), nicknamed Abi; KD’s immediate supervisor Shinde (played by Brahmaji); and director of general police Nageswara Rao (played by Rao Ramesh).

Describing the rest of “HIT: The 2nd Case” would be giving away too much spoiler information. It’s enough to say that the movie is a non-stop ride of suspense and intrigue, with all of the actors playing their roles very well. The movie’s big showdown scene comes across as a little too contrived, but it’s still packed with a lot of tension. Mostly, “HIT: The 2nd Case” succeeds in how this investigation unfolds in a riveting way and how solving this mystery has a few fascinating surprises.

Wall Poster Cinema released “HIT: The 2nd Case” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on December 2, 2022.

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