‘Pailwaan’ Is a Classic Tale of the Underdog With a Dash of Masala

Pailwaan brings ‘Kichcha’ Sudeep and director S Krishna together for the first time. (Krishna was earlier the cinematographer for Sudeep’s Kempe Gowda.) And then, there is Suniel Shetty! Almost all of Sudeep’s blockbusters are remakes of Telugu, Tamil, Hindi or Bengali films. But this takes away nothing from his performance as a versatile actor. So is Pailwaan a remake?

Wrestling Goes Mass-ala

Wrestling meets masala in Pailwaan.

There’s nothing authentic about the film, including the wrestling and the boxing fight sequences. But it’s obvious from the first fight itself that that was never the attempt.

Pailwaan is the outcome of the multilingual success of KGF, which is the result of Baahubali’s dream run at the box office. There’s nothing new in the film, but it’s all improved and large and grand. While it’s not a direct remake of any specific film, there’s a little bit of Sultan, a couple of rich girl’s dad-poor hero dialogues and a predictable plot. But you still root for the hero Kichcha aka Krishna. The background score (Arjun Jaya) is thumping and over the top. For this film, this story, this ethos, it’s not a bad thing. This is what suspends disbelief during the fights, and jerks tears out of decades old scenes of disillusionment

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Aakanksha and Sushant

The heroine and one of the villains. Sushant sing plays a megalomaniac king of a small town who puts up cutouts of himself across town. The character is extremely fragile on the inside and exudes vengeance. Sushant visibly enjoys himself. Aakanksha had a fun role in Badrinath ki Dulhaniya earlier and delivers a comfortable performance. She has no role, as is the case with such masala epics, but it’s fun to watch her on screen.

A CSR Second Half That Holds

Pailwaan marks Suniel Shetty’s Kannada film debut.

The hero fights for a good cause, not for himself. He defeats Tony, who is the embodiment of all things evil in boxing (hence the shift from wrestling to boxing), and uses the prize money to help uplift underprivileged kids.

The arguably lame premise notwithstanding, the second half refuses to give up the ghost and puts up a decent fight. It’s got a rousing opening fight featuring Suniel Shetty, a training montage and of course, the climax fight between underdog and super villain.

Pailwaan is all heart and no logic. It checks all the right ticks that hook an audience. There’s a bit of Rajinikanth in Sudeep’s mannerisms and in the way he speaks. I’m not sure if that’s what gives him the screen presence, or if that’s the elusive X factor. But Pailwaan works, despite its lumbering predictability, thanks to Sudeep’s star power.

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