PSV Garuda Vega 126.18M is not only the name of Praveen Sattaru’s latest film, starring Rajasekhar, but also a tipping point in the director’s career who makes a strong case that he can dare to dream big and also achieve his goal.
The film is relentless, gripping, thrilling in equal measure, and it’s not everyday that you get to use those words in a sequence, especially while talking about a Telugu film. It’s no secret that most Telugu films are built with a combination of two or three genres like action, drama, romance and comedy; however, PSV Garuda Vega 126.18M has only one motive – to put you on the edge of your seat, and it succeeds in doing that to a large extent.
There’s always a sense of urgency, right from the first scene, set in Darjeeling in the story, which is its biggest strength. The introduction scene rekindled my memories of watching the opening montages of films based on James Bond or even Jason Bourne. In this movie, we are introduced to a hacker, Niranjan (Aadith), who’s seen transferring top secret files, and bargaining for a price. Soon, the action shifts to Hyderabad, where Shekhar (Rajasekhar), an NIA official, is forced to go on a hot pursuit of two criminals. It doesn’t take too long for him to realise that he has to crack a big conspiracy before it’s too late.
The film is full of ideas and Praveen Sattaru weaves all it quite seamlessly.
Sample this – A hacker logs in to deep web to upload encrypted, classified files; another hacker explains how morse code can be decrypted; a plot that links satellites to monitoring of national assets; NIA (National Investigation Agency) officials taking down suspects in covert operations. And let’s not even begin with the stunning action choreography.
PSV Garuda Vega is an ambitious film that sticks to its genre with an occasional distraction or two just to remind you that you are still watching a Telugu film. A case in point being a rather unnecessary item number featuring Sunny Leone. But to be able to come this far, like what Praveen Sattaru has managed to do with this film, deserves both our attention and curiosity because he has shown that it isn’t impossible to make a wonderfully written and staged action thriller that’s also quite believable.
Rajasekhar, the ‘Angry Young Man’ of the 90s, returns as an NIA officer who is constantly on the run. Call it a throwback to the good old days where he was our answer to the Rambos and DieHards of Hollywood, or a return to form, Garuda Vega has shown that he’s still got the mojo in him to pull off an action thriller if it has a strong script. And boy, he does deliver on that front. Aadith is well-cast as a young hacker whose life is in constant danger, and he delivers a fine performance.
Apart from Rajasekhar, the entire supporting cast led by Nasser, Ravi Varma, Charandeep, Vinukonda Dilip play a key role in holding the plot together and giving us plenty of reasons to root for them when all hell breaks loose. On the other hand, Pooja Kumar, who plays Rajasekhar’s wife, breezes through her role which is reminiscent of her role in Vishwaroopam, and Shraddha Das, as a reporter, and Posani Krishnamurali, as a politician, deliver noteworthy performances. Kishore, who plays the leader of an international smuggling gang, is well-cast but it still feels like his role was cut-short in the end.
All said and done, the film truly belongs to Praveen Sattaru and his technical crew.
Time is an important element in the narrative and this feeling is further accentuated by a thrilling background score by Sricharan Pakala whose work is clearly inspired from the likes of Hans Zimmer. Every stunt sequence is brilliantly edited which makes you pay close attention to the screen, and the cinematography complements the narrative quite well. It’s all so organically woven into the storytelling that nothing looks awkward and the collective audio-visual experience is as good as it gets.
PSV Garuda Vega is also the kind of film which makes you forget who the actors are because it’s so well-narrated.
In times like these where actors hold the key to make us root for the characters they play, Praveen reminds us that you can still circumvent all that if you stay true to what you want to achieve and create an immersive experience. The first half, in particular, is terrific and the build up to the interval episode is arguably one of the best sequences of the year.
The film does have its share of issues when it comes to its narrative in the second half, where Aadith unravels the whole conspiracy. At one point, Rajasekhar gets so bored of his mumbo-jumbo that he asks him to “come to the point”. We couldn’t agree more with him at that point because when the ‘action’ is so good, who has the patience to sit through ‘conversations’.
Isn’t it? But then, there’s nothing in the film to complain about. PSV Garuda Vega is lean, slick, stylish, and one hell of an action thriller. Two big thumbs up. Go watch it.