Director: Puri Jagannadh
Cast: Mahesh Babu, Kajal Aggarwal, Nasser, Prakashraj and others
Ever since word spread about the birth of the 'Businessman', expectations have been running high for the Mahesh Babu-Puri Jagannadh combo, especially following the success of the star’s previous movie 'Dookudu'.
So as you sit down, bracing yourself for the next 140 minutes or so, you expect the tall, handsome hunk to flash across the screen in smart formals or semi-formals, reminding you, perhaps, of his earlier avatar as 'Athadu'. Yet for all the swanky posters that did the rounds, the best clothes that Mahesh appears in are faded-grunge torn denims and a tee, complete with a wrong colour-coded jacket. And that, isn’t the only mismatch in the movie.
It begins with seasoned actor Nasser staring into the camera, proudly yet menacingly, al a George W Bush, proclaiming that the Mumbai police force has wiped out the mafia in the city and hence, citizens can now live in peace. As the commissioner of police, he essays the role with the dignity it calls for, one of the few saving graces of the movie.
Our hero’s entry is at a railway station in - wait for it - Mumbai. Obviously, you’re wondering, huh? Just for your information, the rest of the action also unfolds in the commercial capital of India (considering that the movie is called Businessman, I guess it makes sense). The only pointed reference to Hyderabad is in a brief contrived scene of some obscure goonda threatening an equally obscure jewellery store owner.
Surya (Mahesh Babu) is an ordinary but intrepid youngster who declares that he’s come to Mumbai to ‘make them pee in their pants’. A typical chauvinistic dialogue, it is irritatingly repeated and over-done throughout the movie. He begins a seemingly pointless crusade to hoard money by bringing the dismembered local goonda organisations under his umbrella. Preying on a local politician, he builds his muscle, gaining favour from a Union minister.
And we’re still wondering what the fuss is all about when Chitra (Kajal Aggarwal) jumps into the picture, out of the blue. With goondas falling for the police commissioner’s daughter being the order of the day, Chitra is a chip off the same block. As a colourful, naïve damsel-cum-artist (both being equated to each other) who can’t figure out when someone is so obviously lying to impress, Kajal fits the bill, to a T.
The movie does have its lighter moments, like when you see a bunch of Sardarjis being hustled in Kolkata or a Fox News channel logo on one of the microphones during a media meet, not to mention the weird accented side-kick to the heroine who always elicits the same reaction from the audience - “What did she say?”
With scenes swapping back and forth from Surya organising his crime syndicate to chasing his girlfriend to cops chasing Surya and back, the film is a badly-narrated storyline that could’ve otherwise been a suave film.
Though to the credit of Puri Jagannadh, it must be said that the story of how one man carefully calculates his moves to not only takeover the crime world in one city but also all the cities and links it to one fountainhead is shot well – notwithstanding the typical flamboyance.
However, when the justification for the protagonist’s vigorous overhaul of the system is revealed, instead of being unveiled like the moment of epiphany it should’ve been, viewers heave a collective sigh of relief - now we know what the fuss is all about! But beware, the clarity is only short-lived! Surya goes on to negate most of the philosophies he professes initially. And we’re back to square one.
Bottom-line: Beat the living day-lights out of everyone and anyone, make money while doing it and dish out some convoluted philosophy that is impractical. You get the girl, the goondas and the box-office.
It must be mentioned that in the course of the film, Puri does make a few pertinent points about how the world works - in circles that chase money. Surya’s final message warns the younger generation to be wary and always be on the guard, the only person who can protect you is yourself. But the final didactic message at the end of the twisted plot does little to salvage the film.
A special mention must be made of the entire picturisation. It’s tastefully done with an apt background score that complements the overall effect of the film.
Also the video montage of Mumbai during the credits at the beginning does lend a flavour to the entire Mum-’bhai’ setting.
Verdict: If you don’t mind scratching your head for half the movie trying to figure out where it’s going, you’ll enjoy 'The Businessman'.