Rating: Two Stars
Remaking a 2010 Telugu film has its share of problems–mainly the dated subject and old-fashioned style of filmmaking.
Deva Katta had also directed the original, and transplants the Hindi version, Prassthanam to Uttar Pradesh, where the rampant lawlessness, political skullduggery, and tribal loyalties fit right in.
Baldev Pratap (Sanjay Dutt) inherits the wealth and assembly seat of a dying old man by marrying his widowed daughter-in-law Saroj (Manisha Koirala), whose consent is, of course, not sought; in that world, men make, bend or break the rules as they please. She is the mother of two kids and gives birth to a third—Baldev’s son Vivaan– who turns out to be the root of all the family’s problems. Saroj’s daughter cuts herself away from the family, while the son, Ayush (Ali Fazal) becomes his step-father’s right-hand man and heir to his political legacy.
The spoilt Vivaan (Satyajeet Dubey) resents what he sees as his father’s partiality towards Ayush, and sets in motion a chain of events that culminates in bloodshed and tragedy. He drugs to rape and kills the daughter of Baldev’s trusted henchman Badshah (Jackie Shroff), forcing Baldev to take sides.
The film is set in Lucknow, but in the fictional world Katta creates, people, go about killing their opponents with impunity and still have the nerve to talk about right and wrong, comparing their banal lives to the Ramayan and Mahabharat. For the audience, the choice here is really between evil and more evil. Unfortunately, the villain Bajwa Khatri (Chunky Pandey), rattling on about some mining land, is totally ineffectual.
The women have very little to do, Saroj wears a mournful look throughout, Ayush’s love interest (Amyra Dastur), supposedly in India to write a thesis on political corruption, appears in fewer scenes than the family’s dining table. The death of the daughter is not even considered worth grieving.
Baldev is a four-time MLA from his constituency, but there is no explanation for his popularity with the masses. The two sons just glower, fight, and swagger around to no effect. Not one character evokes a smidgen of sympathy.
Ayush is the kind of role Sanjay Dutt played in his heyday and has now moved up to elder statesman parts that sit uncomfortably on his muscular frame. Jackie Shroff impresses in his brief role and still has that kohl-eyed smoulder.
The songs are awkwardly pushed into the narrative—including a truly odd one-shot around Haji Ali in Mumbai. In the end, Prassthanam is just a bloated, boring and anachronistic film, that did not merit a remake, especially not as a vanity project produced by Sanjay Dutt. Surely he could find a better project for himself.