Rakshit Shetty's Avane Srimannarayana, the Tamil dubbed version of the Kannada film of the same name, is undoubtedly one of the quirkiest mainstream films to have come out in recent years. On paper, it's the story of a group of people who are at loggerheads over some ancient treasure that has gone missing, but what it achieves cinematically, especially in terms of writing, presentation and cinematography, is commendable as it sets new benchmark for Kannada cinema with respect to aiming big and delivering without inhibitions.
Watch the trailer of 'Avane Srimannarayana' here
Avane Srimannarayana is the kind of film where Indiana Jones meets the Spaghetti Western to pave the way for a story with a punchy mythological twist. The story is set in a fantasy land called Amaravathi where, in pursuit of solving the disappearance of some ancient treasure, a quirky cop called Narayana (Rakshit Shetty) has to rub shoulders with and get past the head of a dacoit clan, Jayaram and a local, conniving politician Tukaram. The story follows Narayana's efforts to find the missing treasure and save the locals from the tyranny of Jayaram.
The film really shines in its writing as it successfully manages to strike a balance between a fantasy comedy and a thriller. Rakshit, who is one of the writers, gives us a story that's a nod to the Spaghetti Western, and he sells the idea with a screenplay that keeps us engaged despite the long running time. The story draws you into a world full of surprises. From cowboys to a bunch of boisterous drama actors and the search for missing treasure, Avane Srimannarayana works because it dares to experiment, especially with the fantasy genre which has rarely been explored by southern filmmakers. By the end of the film, you wish it was shorter, but you'll still be pleasantly surprised by the overall attempt.
Rakshit Shetty leads the show from the front. As the quirky, corrupt cop with an itch to challenge himself, he makes the titular character so much fun to watch on screen. Imagine a scenario -- what if Jack Sparrow had not been a pirate and happened to be a cop in a small town, you'd get Narayana, whose energy is unmatchable. The support cast is equally good and the leading lady (Shanvi Srivastav), for a change, gets a meaty part. In fact, if not for Shanvi's character, there's no way the hidden treasure could be found. The story has an interesting mythological twist and it's well complemented by a sub-plot featuring a bunch of drama actors.
Avane Srimannarayana is a bold experiment. If not for the story, the film should keep you engaged with its grand visuals and music. Even though the climax feels slightly long-drawn, the film doesn't disappoint as it reaches its end, and the credit for it must go to the team of writers.