When walking into a Puri Jagannadh film, we already have a good idea of what’s coming our way. His latest release, iSmart Shankar, was a sweet surprise. Of course, it checks off all the boxes of a classic Puri Jagannadh movie but blends in newer elements as well with ease. iSmart Shankar is single-handedly shouldered by the power-packed performer, Ram Pothineni, who plays the protagonist. Actor Satyadeva Kancharla essays the role of Arun – a CBI officer on a secret mission while Nidhhi Agerwal is Sara – a Neurogenetic Scientist who achieves memory transplant. Nabha Natesh portrays the character of Chandini – a Civil Engineer who falls for a ruffian. Tulasi Shivaram, Sayaji Shinde, Raj Deepak Shetty, Ashish Vidhyarthi and Puneet Issar add more meat to the film.
This time, the filmmaker tells us the story of a bad man turning into a good cop (quite literally), in a non-linear fashion. However, at no point will you lose track of the events taking place around the characters. The film starts with Shankar escaping from the jail to take his revenge against the people who put him behind bars and killed the only person he truly loved. His escape lands him in more trouble and a series of events end up making him a “double sim card phone”.
Now, how Shankar finds a balance between seeking his revenge and with the constant “current shocks” and “videos” (the word he uses for memories) in his brain is the crux of the story. There are five songs and around four full-fledged action sequences. The filmmaker places them with caution, neither too abruptly to break the sync nor away from the reality to make you roll your eyes. Mani Sharma‘s music retains the tone, timing and texture of the film.
For years, Ram has been the good boy who can break bones and set bad guys straight. For the first time, he delves into the darker side. In iSmart Shankar, Shankar is a murderer and a goonda. The filmmaker, in no way, tries to exhibit him as the “hero” of the film. Ram’s dancing skills are not unknown to us, but in this film, he makes the action look graceful too. He speaks in a thick Telangana accent and that adds more character to his persona. While we’re at it, let’s give a round of applause to the dialogues, written by Puri Jagannadh too. They are funny, quirky, suitable for each character and NEW!
Satyadev gets the least screen time but plays a pivotal role. Let’s say, he lays the foundation for the future Shankar. (If you know it, you know it :p) He fits perfectly as the CBI officer who is extremely passionate about his mission and is deeply in love with his girlfriend. Nidhhi as a budding scientist seems a little too young to play her part but nevertheless, she does a decent job. Nabha seems to be in her element as the modern city girl who can turn into a rowdy if someone tries to mess with her.
One couple keeps work ahead of themselves and the other is ready to burn the world down for their love. One lover seeks to avenge his loss while the other tries to complete what her partner couldn’t. At the base lies a murder mystery that connects them all in an action-driven plot with a hint of science-fiction. Finally, Puri Jagannadh serves a platter of entertainment, something for everyone – no matter what your preferences are, you will be hooked.