Saindhav review: A Tedious Journey into Unoriginal Territory

Expectations soared when Venkatesh revealed his 75th collaboration with Sailesh Kolanu, known for two consecutive hits (Hit, Hit: The Second Case). During the film’s promotion, Sailesh boldly asserted that the final 20 minutes of Saindhav would stand as “one of the most memorable cinematic experiences in anyone’s life,” heightening anticipation around the project.

Saindhav (Venkatesh), the titular character, operates a crane at a port in the fictitious island city of Chandraprastha. The film’s ensemble cast includes Shraddha Srinath, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Andrea Jeremaiah, Arya, Ruhani Sharma, among others.

Unlike the suspenseful unveiling of a violent past in movies like Baasha, Sailesh discloses early on that Saindhav Koneru, alias Saiko (playing on the word psycho), was a mercenary. Disappointingly, the film draws substantial “inspiration” from Hollywood’s John Wick, attempting to adapt its storyline to Indian sensibilities.

Saindhav’s daughter Gayathri is afflicted with spinal muscular atrophy, a curable but exorbitantly priced genetic disorder. The film explores the protagonist’s mission to address this issue and combat terrorism plaguing Chandraprastha, orchestrated by a cartel led by Mithra (Mukesh Rishi).

John Wick’s narrative simplicity centers around the protagonist severing ties with the mafia after his wife’s death and seeking revenge for his pet dog’s murder. Sailesh endeavors to replicate this formula in Saindhav, with varying success. However, the film lacks engaging set-pieces, compelling action choreography, and a gripping screenplay.

Saindhav’s lackluster opening fails to captivate, and Sailesh’s imaginative world remains unconvincing. The film falls short in offering depth to the cartel-controlled environment, keeping the audience emotionally detached from the characters.

The film suffers from weak writing, surprising given Sailesh’s track record. A lazy approach permeates the film, evident in the Mustang car, also “inspired” by John Wick, equipped with exaggerated features.

Sailesh attempts to contemporize Saindhav by incorporating current issues like the Palestine-Israel conflict. However, his handling of sensitive topics lacks nuance, particularly in portraying Palestinians as terrorists.

The superficial depiction of the relationship between Gayathri and Saindhav undermines the hero’s emotional elevation. The film’s only heartening moment is a scene where Saindhav shares a drink with Mano (Shraddha Srinath).

Saindhav’s revelation about working under his father-in-law lacks impact, highlighting the amateurish writing. The characters feel like cardboard cutouts, hindering Venkatesh’s performance. The dialogues are jarring and out of sync with the film’s tone.

Amidst this uninspiring world, Nawazuddin provides some relief, not due to his performance but by injecting humor into the soulless characters. Arya and Shraddha’s talents go to waste, while Nawazuddin is reduced to a caricature, and Andrea is objectified. Saindhav falls short as an action-entertainer, and the promised “cinematic moments” only induce drowsiness.


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