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.

Review: ‘Adipurush,’ starring Prabhas, Saif Ali Khan, Kriti Sanon, Sunny Singh and Devdatta Nage

June 20, 2023

by Carla Hay

Devdatta Nage, Prabhas and Sunny Singh in “Adipurush” (Photo courtesy of AA Films)


Directed by Om Raut

Released in Hindi and Telugu versions with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in India, the fantasy/action film “Adipurush” (based on the epic Hindu tale “Ramayana”) features an Indian cast of characters in a world populated by humans and talking creatures.

Culture Clash: A god prince goes on a mission to rescue his kidnapped wife.

Culture Audience: “Adipurush” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching an overly long fantasy film that has terrible visual effects and stupid dialogue.

Saif Ali Khan in “Adipurush” (Photo courtesy of AA Films)

“Adipurush” is a spectacle for all the wrong reasons. Viewers will be watching to see if the tacky visual effects and idiotic plot can get any worse. They do. And at three hours long, this bombastic and mind-numbing fantasy film becomes an endurance test. According to MeaningDB (a database for English-language meanings of Indian words): “Adipurush is a Sanskrit name that refers to the God Ishwara. Adi means first, and Purush means man. The name together denotes First Man/Supreme Person.”

Directed by Om Raut (who co-wrote the atrocious “Adipurush” screenplay with Manoj Muntashir), “Adipurush” is based on the epic Hindu tale “Ramayana.” However, there are enough changes to this movie adaptation, that there’s not much resemblance to the original story. What viewers will see in the movie is just a mishmash of fight scenes and chase scenes that revolve around rescuing a kidnapped princess. “Adipurush” had its world premiere at the 2023 Tribeca Festival.

In “Adipurush” (which takes place in an unspecified time period in India), the main hero is Raghava (played by Prabhas), a god prince who has extraordinary fighting powers. In the beginning of the movie, he’s seen defeating an army of harpy-like demons. Raghava’s loyal and loving wife Janaki (played by Kriti Sanon) soon gets kidnapped by the evil Ravana (played by Saif Ali Khan), a demon king of Lanka. Ravana can sprout 10 heads. The 10-headed Ravana is one of the more laughable (and not in a good way) parts of “Adipurush,” because the visual effects look so fake.

Ravana’s sister Shurpanakha (played by Tejaswini Pandit) actually instigated this kidnapping. Shurpanakha is jealous of Janaki, because Shurpanakha wanted to have a love affair with Raghava, but he rejected her and told her that he was going to remain loyal to Janaki. Raghava’s younger brother Shesh (played by Sunny Singh) also became a target for Shurpanakha’s seductions, but Shesh rejected her too. Shurpanakha tried to harm Janaki, but Shesh thwarted this effort and cut off Shurpanakha’s nose as a result.

Shurpanakha then told Ravana that she wants his help to get revenge on Janaki and Raghava. Ravana sees Janaki and immediately becomes smitten by her beauty and decides that he wants her for himself. This desire led to Janaki being kidnapped and hidden away in the Forest of Panchavati. Raghava, Shesh and many allies then go on a mission to find and rescue Janaki and defeat Ravana and his army.

One of the allies of Raghava and Shesh is a mutant human/monkey named Bajrang (played by Devdatta Nage), who looks mostly like a human, except for his long monkey tail. Bajang also has the ability to grow to the size of a skyscraper building. There are several talking primates in “Adipurush,” and they all look like rejects from director Matt Reeves’ masterful “Planet of the Apes” movies. There are also a few talking bears. The acting performances “Adipurush” range from average to barely watchable.

Perhaps the most ridiculous scene in the movie is when Bajrang finds Janaki in the forest. She is by herself in an open field, where she is unguarded, unrestrained, and not locked up in a room. In other words, it would be easy for anyone to rescue her at that moment. But no. All Bajrang says is that he’s a messenger for Raghava, and the message is that Raghava loves Janaki.

Imagine being a kidnapping victim and a warrior ally has a chance to rescue you, but all he says is, “Nice to see you. I have a message. Your spouse loves you. I have to go now so that your spouse can be the one to rescue you. Goodbye.” That’s essentially what happens in “”Adipurush,” which takes a full hour (the last third of the movie) to show Raghava trying to get to Janaki and the battles he has along the way. Anyone who wants a good adventure story that doesn’t insult your intelligence should steer clear of “Adipurush,” which is nothing but idiotic and very loud movie junk.

AA Films released “Adipurush” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on June 16, 2023.

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