Salaar: Part 1: The Ceasefire Review: Prashanth Neel Scripts A Worthy Comeback Film For Prabhas Despite The Cliched Trappings

Director: Prashanth Neel

Cast: Prabhas, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Shruti Haasan, Jagapathi Babu, Sriya Reddy, Easwari Rao, Bobby Simha, Tinnu Anand

Where: In theatres near you

Rating: 3 stars

The stakes are undeniably high for everyone involved in Salaar: Part 1: The Ceasefire. Filmmaker Prashanth Neel, having set a formidable standard with the monumental success of the K.G.F. franchise, understands the imperative of maintaining the expectations of his audience. Additionally, lead actor Prabhas, having transcended his status as Telugu cinema’s Darling Rebel Star to become a Pan-Indian superstar, seeks a much-needed hit after a string of disappointments with Saaho, Radhe Shyam, and Adipurush. Meanwhile, Prithviraj Sukumaran, a trailblazer in Malayalam cinema, has long embraced the foresight of exploring diverse content in various Indian languages, both as an actor and a producer. Moreover, an inevitable showdown with a reigning global superstar at the box office, this weekend, has only intensified the intrigue around the film’s release. Does the film deliver or does it crumble under the weight of expectations, let’s figure.

Salaar: Part 1: The Ceasefire unfolds the narrative of Deva (Prabhas) and Vardharaja Mannar’s (Prithviraj) friendship in the fictional town of Khansaar. Their camaraderie takes a tumultuous turn when political circumstances transform them into bitter rivals, compelling Deva to depart from the city along with his mother. Several years later, as Aadhya (Shruti Haasan) returns to India from the US, she becomes the target of Mannar’s extended family. It falls upon Deva to uphold and protect her, presenting an opportunity for the estranged friends to reunite for a cause that will reshape the destiny of Khansaar.

Neel draws inspiration from Game of Thrones, Baahubali, and his own 2014 Kannada debut, Ugramm, to craft a project that aligns seamlessly with the commanding presence of his main leads. While the screenplay could have benefited with tighter editing, given the filmmaker’s penchant for establishing Prabhas’ on-screen persona, the extended shots of the actor may become overwhelming for the audience after a certain point. Ravi Basrur’s musical composition, while not reaching the exceptional heights as observed in Neel’s K.G.F., nevertheless contributes effectively to the stylishly choreographed action sequences in the film, with his background score. Bhuvan Gowda’s cinematography and T.L. Venkatachalapathi’s skillful production design collaborate seamlessly to enable Neel in providing an exceptional world-building experience, particularly in the way Khansaar is designed. It’s a city that spells doom and dread.

Without the finely orchestrated action sequences by Anbarivu, Salaar might risk becoming a rather dull affair. The action director skillfully uses the impressive physiques of Prabhas and Prithviraj, creating exhilarating action moments that are worth cherishing at the theatres. Examining the film solely based on its script, the premise appears, quite frankly, outdated and redundant.

Salaar succeeds due to the commendable performances of both Prabhas and Prithviraj. Prabhas, openly acknowledging his own laziness in past interviews, benefits from a capable director like Neel, whose vision effectively brings out at least the bare minimum effort from the actor on screen. The man can now witness the spell of failure being broken. He exercises pain and power, in equal measure Yet, from a personal perspective, I would prefer to commend Prithviraj’s performance. He is restrained yet effective. Shruti has minimal screentime, and it remains interesting to see whether she will play a more substantial role in the subsequent films of the Salaar franchise. Jagapathi Babu, portraying Raja Mannaar, has a restricted on-screen presence, yet his effectiveness is notable. Bobby Simha performs commendably in his limited role as Vardha’s brother-in-law Bhaarava. Sriya Reddy and Easwari Rao deliver fine performances in their pivotal roles as Radha Rama and Deva’s mother.

With Salaar Part 1: The Ceasefire, Neel scripts a much-needed comeback vehicle for his leading man. Never mind the cliches though.

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