It is the story of Sai Baba. The film focuses on the miracles that Sai Baba has done and how he helped people realize that god is one. In the process how he alters the lives of various people is what the film deals with in totality.
Akkineni Nagarjuna once again takes up a devotional film. But this time instead of playing a devotee he plays the god himself. When compared to the previous interpretation of Sai Baba, Nagarjunaâ€™s version looks a tad too healthy and a bit contemporary both in looks and postures. However the star must be congratulated for even attempting such a part. Performance wise he comes into his own in the climax and leaves an impact.
Sayaji Shinde as Bhatia plays a caricaturist version of rich village head who typically scoffs at the blind beliefs of the people. The actor lacks the finesse to do such role and the result is that when the transformation happens it doesnâ€™t generate the feel it ought to.
Srikanth is once again seen in a good supporting role. He puts up his regular act. He is fine overall.
Sai Kumar is good. His first scene with Sai Baba is very well executed and in fact is one of the best scenes of the film. Srihari as Wales is alright. He plays an Englishman and mouths Telugu dialogues with an accent. But when it finally comes to the emotional scene he forgets his accent and character and acts like he acts regularly.
Vinaya Prasad as Baayija Bai is very effective. She manages to develop a genuine connect with audience for her character. Kamalinee Mukharjee plays a small role she is effective in the one scene she has.
There are a number of other character actors too who play important parts like Booti, Taatya,Dappoo in the film but have small length. They all have a scene each to show their skills. And they all did well within their limitations and the genre limitations.
Old fashioned treatment that works some times and fails other times
Comedy feels forced
The intentions of making the film are good and entire cast must be appreciated for making the film. But just making the film thatâ€™s rarely made shouldnâ€™t be the sole reason to celebrate the film. At the end of the day a film must have a story and screenplay that engages, it is only then that the film would leave a lasting impression and become a genuine art which is what has been attempted with Shirdi Sai.
Here in Shirdi Sai the film lacks in the story and screenplay department. A series of incidents are shown that many of us are already aware of. Imagine if the screenplay was written showcasing the ideology behind all those incidents and it was part of a narrative as a whole that could be summed up as a simple story. It would have made this a timeless classic like an Annamayya or various other such devotional films from the past. Here everything appears random and lacks the cohesive storytelling. When one watches the first half of the film itâ€™s all about â€˜hey, I have heard about that incidentâ€™ rather than talking about the story of the film.
Post intermission the film gets a semblance of screenplay and the story develops to something more than just a collage of incidents. This development of story coupled with good screenplay and background music makes the climax effective. Hence it is the climax that stays with you once you are out of the cinemas.
Direction by K Raghavendra Rao is alright. He extracts performances well. However he still doesnâ€™t let go off his old fashioned ways in terms of drama and comedy.
Music and background score by MM Keeravani is fantastic like it has always been when making a devotional film.
Cinematography is good. Editing should have been sharper.
Whatever are the faults films like these are rarely made, hence a must watch.