The story has a lot of potential -- a relevant political issue -- with students taking on goons who dominate the political system. Though Sainikudu starts on a promising note, it peters to some extent as the film progresses. There are some political comments -- like hints at the failure of the government machinery which ought to come to the aid of the masses -- but revenge and love dominate, and strangle, the theme.
The film opens with some stark visuals of a flood -- in Warangal, no less! It is difficult to imagine floods in the arid belt where Warangal is located. Siddhartha (Mahesh) a student and a good Samaritan saves a couple of lives. One wonders where the state machinery has gone! Wanting to do good for the masses, this messiah helps in the distribution of food grains, and in the process locks horns with Pappu Yadav (Irrfan Khan), a goon whose henchman is Prakash Raj. Siddhartha pits his friend as a rival candidate.
Pappu, with the help of Prakash Raj, implicates Siddhartha and puts him in jail. Siddhartha escapes (very easily) to kidnap Varalakshmi (Trisha) from the marriage pandal just as she is to marry Pappu Yadav. The two escape to the forest, and from then on, the movie loses its pace.
A rather naive Varalakshmi is in love with Pappu (a heroine in love with a villain for a change) and it's anybody's guess what ensues in the encounter in the forest. The talkative Varalakshmi is steals the show here, but song-and-dance routines ruin the narrativeThe 'romantic' interludes in the forest take up enough time, as the story loses its grip completely.
The story meanders back on track, but then becomes sheer violence. The game of Pappu and Siddhartha doublecrossing each other to wreak vengeance dominates the proceedings. How the revenge saga ends is anybody's guess.
The film has some good moments, like Siddhartha trying to spread humanism and espousing the cause of the poor and his effort to cleanse the political system of goons, the students' rising up in hordes at Siddhartha's request, and Siddhartha's impressive speech on television filled with patriotic and humanistic fervour.
Sainikudu, like Rang De Basanti, largely turns to a violent conclusion. The story is set in Warangal, a town that was quite a hotbed for student violence. There is an allusion to the Naxalite movement, and Siddhartha and his friends are even branded as terrorists when they use violence. In fact, they are shown indulging in violence rather than in studies. Students rising up in protest and moving the governmental machinery is shown on a rather simplistic note, and seems to be slightly far-fetched in the film.
There are quite a few unanswered questions which pop up as you watch the film. How Mahesh escapes from jail, how nobody saves Trisha when she is kidnapped in an open jeep, and why the students appear only when Mahesh wants them to do so and so on.
In terms of performances, Mahesh Babu is simply uber cool -- he just continues from his Pokiri performance. He is effortless but it gives the viewer a feeling of deja vu. He has some moments, but doesn't really have to display much histrionics. Trisha shines as the vivacious village girl. Irrfan Khan as usual looks the villain but not like the menacing one in Pokiri. Prakash Raj does his job well.
Thankfully, the inane and irritating humour, a staple feature in most Telugu films, is not present in Sainikudu.
Director Gunasekhar starts with a good premise, fails to capitalise on it and offers a facile solution which cannot be the order of the day.
Nonetheless, Sainikudu can be watched at least for its premise of letting the warrior in each individual surface, and the fact that it is done with the idea of motivating people to do something for their fellow humans. Perhaps it can be inspirational in that sense.Rediff Rating: