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Salaar Movie Review - Inferior to 'KGF', superior to 'Saaho'

December 22, 2023
Hombale Films
Prabhas, Shruti Haasan, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Jagapathi Babu, Madhu Guruswamy, Easwari Rao, Sriya Reddy
Bhuvan Gowda
Ujwal Kumar
Ravi Basur
Vijay Kirangudur
Prashanth Neel

'Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire', produced by Hombale Films, was released in theatres today. In this section, we are going to review the latest box-office release.


Deva (Prabhas) and Vardharaja Mannar (Prithviraj Sukumaran) are childhood friends who had to part ways for an emotional reason. While Deva grows up to be a strong-willed man with the potential to become a warlord, Varadharaj, who hails from a royal family, is waiting to take over the throne of the city of Khansaar. His father Raja Mannar (Jagapathi Babu) is determined to make him his grand successor against all odds.

A bunch of traitorous governors bring chaos to the centre of Khansaar in search of power. It is now up to Deva to save the empire from an imminent fall and ensure that his old friend takes over the throne. Or, is there more to his motive?


Prabhas embodies the steely and resolute traits of Deva. His character may not be author-backed and the best may be reserved for the sequel, but the raw intensity he exudes makes him the most lovable action hero of 2023. Deva is an insurmountable mammoth and only someone with Prabhas' physicality could have played such an unreal character. Prabhas' swagger is in contrast with Prithviraj Sukumaran's calm demeanour.

The negative characters (played by Bobby Simha, John Vijay and others) are dragged down by routing writing lacking the bite. If Shruti Hassan is not confined to generic scenes, Jagapathi Babu is a semi-caricature. Easwari Rao, who was seen in the only boring portions of 'KGF 2', is over-expressive here as well. She also dubs as if she were dubbing for her character in 'Pindam'. Mime Gopi, Sriya Reddy, Brahmaji, Saptagiri and others don't make any impact. In fact, a couple of them are miscasts.

Technical aspects:

Editor Ujwal Kulkarni understands the gravity of the subject and adapts himself to Neel's screenplay style. Ravi Basrur's BGM is fleshed out to the extent that it enhances the atmospherics of the scenes, especially when Prabhas' Deva is around. Otherwise, it is not as impactful as the BGM of 'KGF 2'.

TL Venkatachalapathi's production design complements the hyper-masculine and testosterone-filled aesthetics of the film. It doesn't break new ground, though. Bhuvan Gowda's cinematography flattens the deadly world of Khansaar.


Prashanth Neel's movies are superior to most others mass directors' movies in terms of how unrealistically powerful his heroes are. In 'Ugramm', there were criminal syndicates and fraternities. In the 'KGF' movies, the male protagonist was faced with the most powerful ganglords and the most powerful Prime Minister of his epoch. In 'Salaar', Deva has the hardest of all tasks - to send shivers down the spine of treacherous maniacs backed by psychopathic armies.

The problem is, what is on paper doesn't quite come through in terms of action sequences. The interval block hardly qualifies to be called a proper action scene. It is a hero-centric stretch at the service of Prabhas' macho screen presence. In fact, you don't see Prabhas clearly when he is slaying the baddies in that stretch. The violence is not rousing because the scene is not a full-fledged fight.

The fight scene leading up to the killing of a character named Vishnu is very good (props to Anbariv). But, if you think of it, the conflict built around it is outdated. Our directors fall back on child trafficking, gang rapes and other typical ideas to generate drama. This has happened for decades.

In a lot of ways, 'Salaar' is far inferior to the 'KGF' movies. The latter's world was sui generis. Kolar Gold Mines and the people populating it felt like they belonged to a different world. Khansaar is not so. Some scenes here feel like they are taking place in a dusty basthi in the Bombay of the 1980s. If you take out the glittering aerial shot of the city and the main chamber where the king and the subordinate lords hold meetings, the rest of the design is pretty average.

The first half feels like a routine gangster movie with no highs till the interval block. Deva has to save the woman from a bunch of baddies who have walked straight out of the sets of 'Skanda' or some other Boyapati movie. The locations keep shifting from Hyderabad to Assam to Kolkata to New York.

Closing Remarks:

For all its merits, 'Salaar' comes with sub-par writing. Only Prabhas and the grandeur can save it.

Critic's Rating