Pahilwaan - Movie Review

Thursday, September 12, 2019 - 16:00
Pahilwaan (2019)
Cast & Crew: 

Movie: Pahilwaan
Cast: Sudeep, Suniel Shetty, Aakanksha Singh, Sushant Singh, Kabir Duhan Singh, Appanna and others
Music: Arjun Janya
Cinematography: Karunakara A
Action: Ram Lakshman, A Vijay
Editing: Ruben
Producer: Swapna Krishna
Written and Direction: Krishna 
Release date: Sep 12, 2019

'Pailwaan', starring 'Kichcha' Sudeep in the lead role, hit the screens this Thursday.  Let's find out what works and what doesn't.


Krishna (Sandalwood star Sudeep) is an orphan brought up by the large-hearted wrestling champion Sarkar (Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty).  Sarkar's only dream in life is to produce a national wrestling champion. No prizes for guessing that he has pinned all hopes on Krishna.

Krishna falls in love with Rukmini (Aakanksha Singh), the daughter of a rich man. Their affair leads to some unexpected consequences, including a game-changing moment involving Krishna and his guardian, Sarkar.

Somewhere, Raja Rana Pratap Varma (Sushant Singh) is an egomaniac who develops enmity with Krishna and is determined to screw the latter's life. Another thread involves a boxing coach (played by Sharath Lohitashwa). The rest of the film is about how these three threads intersect in the second half and how Krishna emerges a kind-hearted winner in the climax.


Director S Krishna writes the story in company with DS Kannan. Surely and clearly, it's an formulaic storyline involving old-fashioned villains and a hero who gets elevation shots repeatedly (like in 'KGF').  

There is an elder who behaves like those authoritarian characters from films like 'Peda Rayudu'. He is Suniel Shetty, who plays that 'Naa maate sashanam' dude whose purpose in the story is not served beyond a point. He does something at the interval. And, he is not seen anywhere till the pre-climax phase. There he does something that he should have done ages ago if he had any sense.    

Sushant Singh's character starts boring after a point. He is that dated antagonist who insults policemen and becomes mad when he is humiliated in public. You can imagine what kind of scenes and dialogues he must have been given.  

Kabir Duhan Singh plays Tony Sebastian, a dreaded boxer, who plays unethical games. He is introduced quite early on in the film and it's not difficult to predict the climax on the basis of his character. The boxing coach's character keeps interrupting the proceedings throughout the film.

'Pailwaan' has been made to a template, especially the love-marriage track. Sudeep sees Aakanksha Singh (of 'Devdas' fame) and admires her conservative dressing style, only to slip into a dream song whose lyrics are erotic. What the heroine's rich father does is something we saw ages ago in our films.

The climax is a cop out. To make the matters worse, it comes after a song that looks never-ending.  

The film's director gets ambitious with action sequences. The wrestling and boxing scenes are okayish, elevated only by Arjun Janya's background score. Ram-Lakshman duo doesn't show much imagination. Karunakara A's cinematography makes the visuals look good.

Sudeep's performance is pretty simple but his action stunts are good. Suniel is impressive and restrained, while others don't deliver much.

Bottom-line: 'Pailwaan' loses its track with a very ordinary and predictable story. For a movie that depends heavily on Sudeep's heroism, it offers no reason for the Telugu audience to go gaga over its male lead. This has predictable storyline with routine execution.

Reviewed by: 
Vishwanath V