Srikanth: Rajkummar Rao leads a gripping tale of self-determination that feels like a warm hug

Director Tushar Hiranandani deserves huge appreciation for not using the blindness of Srikanth Bolla as a tool of self-pity.
Srikanth (Hindi), 10-05-2024, Biography , Drama, 2 hours 14 minutes, U, Theatre
  • Main Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Alaya F, Jyothika and Sharad Kelkar
  • Director: Tushar Hiranandani
  • Producer: Bhushan Kumar and Krishan Kumar
  • Music Director: Anand Milind, Tanishk Bagchi, Sachet Parampara, Ved Sharma
  • Cinematography: Pratham Mehta
  • Rating: 3.5/5
  • Published in: Southfirst

There was a time when biopics on different personalities used to sell like hotcakes. Cases in point are Farhan Akhtar’s Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013), Vidya Balan’s The Dirty Picture (2012), and Sonam Kapoor’s Neerja  (2015).

These movies raked up both critical acclaim and commercial success.

However, the genre has somewhere lost its sheen in the last few years, particularly the ones related to sports like Taapsee Pannu’s Shabhaash Mithu (2023) or even this year Maidaan (2024). The box office numbers of the Ajay Devgn-starrer are still far away from the producer’s investment.

A major reason for Indian biopics losing its sheen is the overt melodrama along with the predictable beats.

Nevertheless, director Tushar Hiranandani’s Srikanth, based on the visually impaired businessman named Srikanth Bolla, is a welcome change in more ways than one.

Sure, there is a fairytale-like structure in how Srikanth overcomes his obstacles. But, at the same time, the movie does throw light on some important things.

How we should not view differently-abled persons through the lens of pity, instead we should engage with him or her as equals.

Synopsis

‘Srikanth’ is a biography. (X)

The movie begins with the birth of a boy. The father is initially ecstatic about a son being born and rushes home.

He names him Srikanth after the famous batsman Krishnama Chari Srikanth. However, all this changes once the fact of his son being blind comes out.

In the beginning, both parents have a hard time worrying constantly about the child. Things are further compounded by neighbours and relatives who think that Srikanth has no future.

At one point, the father almost buries him alive. But better sense prevails with the wife stopping him.

The rest of the plot looks at the journey of Srikanth from just another village boy to an inspiration for many people like him.

Analysis

Generally, Indian biopics do shy away from showcasing the grey areas of their protagonists. Here too, Tushar Hiranandi surprises big time.

In the second half of the movie, Srikanth has a downfall in business because of his overconfidence and also a bitter attitude towards his business partner-cum-friend Ravi (Sharad Kelkar).

There is a scene where a media person talks about how Srikanth wouldn’t be successful if Ravi hadn’t backed him up.

This does not go down too well with Srikanth; he believes he is wholly and solely responsible for his victory.

Writers Jagadeep Siddhu and Sumit Purohit have written some crackling dialogues that stay with the viewers long after the movie has ended.

A good example of this is the sequence where Srikanth is not allowed to board the plane on account of being visually challenged. The officials insist on someone accompanying him.

How Srikanth turns the situation around with some crackling dialogues not only brings a wide smile but the lines also provide a reality check on how persons with disabilities are not treated as equals.

The monologue at the end also deserves a big thumbs up.

There are scathing remarks on how some people think that the best way to help the blind is only by making them cross the road.

Takeaways

Jyothika at ‘Srikanth’ press meet. (X)

A strong aspect of Srikanth is how the director has projected the stark contrast between India and the West regarding the education facilities for the differently abled.

There are scenes where Srikanth faces rejection for wanting to choose science, though he tops the 12th board exams. The challenges of the protagonist with the Indian educational system have been presented poignantly.

Tushar Hiranandani also does a wonderful job of showcasing the bond between Rajkummar Rao’s Srikanth and Jyothika’s Devika.

Devika was a teacher of businessman Srikanth when he studied at a special school for the visually impaired in Hyderabad.

However, her association with Srikanth goes much beyond school. She is his friend, philosopher and guide.

Devika supports him in every step that he takes but at the same time, she also gives him a reality check when needed.

The best example of this is the portion where she lambasts him for becoming insecure and bitter in the second half.

A speedbump

Rajkummar Rao in ‘Srikanth’. (X)

The love story between Rajkummar and Alaya F though comes across as a major speedbump.

Alaya F has a charming presence but her character of Swathi appears and disappears at the whim of the writers.

The blossoming of love between the two feels rather hurried. Also, there are times when the all-round abilities of Srikanth become a little difficult to digest; like the scenes where he plays basketball and cricket without any hiccups.

The romantic songs of Sachet Parampara “Tu Mil Gaya” and “Tumhe Hi Apna Maana Hai” are soothing in nature. However, the recreation of “Papa Kehte Hain” from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak  (1988) is the major highlight of the soundtrack.

Rajkummar and Jyothika excel

In the title role, Rajkummar Rao delivers an exceptional performance. The actor just disappears into the role starting from the mannerisms.

He particularly shines in the scenes of Srikanth grappling with insecurities. There is also a goofiness to Srikanth which Rajkummar brings out expertly.

Jyothika also makes a big impact bringing the right mixture of warmth and fierceness.

Sharad Kelkar plays the business partner-cum-friend with a lot of empathy.

Final take

Srikanth makes you think about how differently-abled persons should be treated as mainstream and deserve equal opportunities, just like anyone.

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