'A1 Express' is the latest theatrical release this week, competing with at least a couple of other main titles. In this section, we are going to review the hockey-based movie that Sundeep Kishan and others have admittedly made at a cost of Rs 10 crore. In a recent interview, the male lead said that this one is the costliest movie in his career. Let's find out what the film has in store.
Sanju (Sundeep Kishan) is busy wooing Lavanya (Lavanya Tripathi), a hockey player. The going gets tough for the club she is associated with. Rao Ramesh (Rao Ramesh), the Sports Minister, wants to illegitimately take over the club's property and transfer it to a corporate house. The ground has so much emotional value for the hockey players and their patriotic coach (played by Murali Sharma). In a turn of events, the team falls back on Sanju, who comes with a heavy flashback. Can Sanju save the ground?
In his career spanning more than a decade, Sundeep Kishan has played safe roles for the most part. Playing a hockey player in this sports-action drama must have demanded physical exertion from him. And he takes up the challenge with passion. Lavanya Tripathi gets to play a role that doesn't limit her to blushing and dancing. Rao Ramesh, as the epitome of evil in the world of sports, is engaging. Murali Sharma is impressive, while Dayanand Reddy and Posani Krishna Murali are good. Comedians Satya, Mahesh Vitta and others don't evoke laughs. Priyadarshi and Rahul Ramakrishna emote well in the serious scenes that they have.
Music director Hiphop Tamizha doesn't stop at dishing out his kind of songs (read 'Single Kingulam' and 'Amigo'). He pulls up the socks and gives an enjoyable background score throughout. Cinematographer Kavin Raj puts on display his talent and the climax portions must have been quite challenging. Art Direction by Faisal Ali Khan
The film, a remake of the Tamil-language film 'Natpe Thunai', is directed by Dennis Jeevan. The makers have highlighted the fact that it is the first hockey-based mainstream Telugu movie. Hockey is a strong element that is leveraged in the climax. But the film is not just about hockey.
Writers Sreekanth, Devesh and Jeyachandran take up a safe storyline, where heroism may be understated but it is definitely integral to the script. Sundeep Kishan's character has a painful flashback. The scenes here tug at the heartstrings but the ideas are not innovative or unique.
The male lead woos, of all, a hockey player. Lavanya gets an intro song that lets the hero do some stylish moves.
The tempo of the narration is at its best in the run-up to the interval. The montage song that plays out while Sanju reveals his hockey-playing skills for the first time is excellent.
Don't expect a riveting hockey match. Admittedly shot at Mohali Stadium with a large contingent of 400 crew members in tandem, the climax match is merely watchable.
'A1 Express' is not an imaginative sports film. But it is spirited enough to keep the audiences involved.