Multiple instances in Lakshya reminded me of the National Award-winning epic, Maharshi. The existence of a ‘villain’ in both stories isn’t simply a device to establish the conflict but is also an indication that the filmmaker isn’t confident enough about creating the drama with the central conflict alone. Although Lakshya has an earnest story at its centre, the need to envelop it into a ‘masala’ film reduces it to a futile and often silly outing. This is the story of a man overcoming several challenges – both external and internal – in the pursuit of success and redemption, yet the generic treatment and the lethargic obviousness pervading the screenplay deter the ideas of Lakshya from seeing fruition.
Lakshya largely sticks to the tried-and-tested sports movie template. The hero, Parthu (Naga Shaurya), an archer, has an aim: it’s winning the world championship, a dream his late father couldn’t realise. There is a motivator: his grandfather (played by Sachin Khedhekar). There’s a rival: an agitating Rahul (Shatru, who gets more intro scenes than the leading man). There’s a setback: the grandfather’s demise and the consequential downfall. And finally, the hero makes a return and achieves the dream, aided by a coach, here played by Jagapathi Babu. We also get a training montage and it is, in fact, one of the better parts of the film.
The issue is, we have seen it all, but what works to an extent is the fact that the film doesn’t flinch when it comes to portraying Parthu’s angst and guilt. But again, the obviousness in the dialogues is evident. When a character says Parthu’s opponent has been knocked out of the tournament, Jagapathi Babu says, “It’s not his opponent Parthu has to compete with, he has to compete with himself.” This, of course, is a reference to the fact that Parthu has to overcome his guilt and mistakes that come in the form of a drug addiction. The film throws everything at us, be it moments of sadness or success, often cutting back to earlier scenes.
The film also has a romantic track, serving as an excuse to a generic song early in the film, and then an equally generic fight scene. I mean, aren’t filmmakers tired of building up a fight scene using a bunch of thugs making crude remarks on the heroine, only for the man to come and intervene? Ketika Sharma’s Ritika is barely a person of her own. She’s simply another ‘object’ to gauge the protagonist’s moral skewness.
Perhaps the only interesting character among the lot is Jagapathi Babu’s Parthasarathi, the aging coach who trains Parthu. We are told Parthasarathi has a rare eye disorder that renders him visually impaired. Honestly, this plot point left me confounded, perhaps due to the actor’s inconsistent performance that had me guessing the severity of his ailment.
What’s funnier is the film’s climax where a world championship is entirely shot using a green screen. I’m willing to let go of the technical weakness. What’s unforgivable is the writing here. Parthu’s opponent, a Chinese archer named Ang Lee slyly makes a sign to his teammates seated in the audience to chant the word ‘cheater’ to hurt Parthu’s morale. I’m not making this up. Such is Lakshya’s treatment.
Lakshya surely has the focus, but like the protagonist, who falls prey to substance abuse, the script too falls prey to predictability.
Cast: Naga Shaurya, Ketika Sharma, Sachin Khedhekar
Director: Santhossh Jagarlapudi