Shakti is touted to be one of the most expensive films in Telugu.
The lavishness is visible in the special effects, sets, locations and action sequences.
However, all this seems unimpressive in the face of the storyline where mythology comes together with reality to produce a tale that is rather long and outdated in today's times and tedious to watch.
Director Meher Ramesh may well have thought of projecting NTR in a 'period-cum-present' film but unfortunately he ends up doing a mishmash of things.
The film draws its inspiration from the concept of the 18 shakti pithas (or places of Shakti worship) in the country and suggests that there might be another unknown Shakti pitha.
So we have an Egyptian princess Fakhtooni (played by Pooja Bedi) heading to this place and trying to lay her hands on a pure crystal -- an ancestral treasure that lies in the possession of Mahadevaraya (Prabhu), who also happens to be the custodian of this unknown Shakti temple and the Home Minister!
Now if this hasn't confused you already, Mahadevaraya is out to retrieve the Rudrasoolam (a special trident) from Jackie Varma (Jackie Shroff) who stole it by deceit from his father (SP Balasubrahmanyam) by killing him.
Enter Shakti Swaroop (NTR Jr) playing a guide who accompanying Aishwarya (Ileana) and her bunch of friends on her journey.
If you thought that the story doesn't get complicated, NTR's secret identity is revealed closer to the interval.
The question of course is will he conquer the evil?
Needless to say the story lacks clarity and there is no logical thread either.
As a result, the audience has to bear
the tedium and the meandering plot.
The journey seems endless and one has to endure it with all the song-dance sequences courtesy NTR and Ileana.
Meher Ramesh seems to be caught in the myth syndrome and yet wanting to give a current touch to it.
So he takes this age-old story (which could've done well a few decades ago), tries to give it a modern touch and fails woefully.
The Egyptian connection seemed unnecessary and wasn't clearly explained. The scenes where Fakhtooni trains her son Rakha, are inhuman to watch. And if this isn't enough there's also a flashback where Manjari Fadnis also appears!
The only plus point in the film is the locales, which are well captured -- be it the sand dunes in Rajasthan, the Pyramids at Giza, Kashmir (Manali masquerades as Kashmir), Haridwar etc.
Till the interval the film is almost worth watching but the second half drags painfully.
The amount of expenditure thanks to a rich producer (Ashwini Dutt) seems wasted.
To a certain extent NTR tries to save the film (though one would not say this is his best effort) with his terrific dance sequences as well as his acting in some of his earlier scenes.
Ileana does little other than looking pretty and just repeats the standards few expressions.
As a pair, NTR and Ileana look just about okay.
Pooja Bedi's does a decent job though it is quite odd seeing her play an Egyptian princess speaking Telugu.
Prabhu doesn't have much to do either. Jackie Shroff, Sonu Sood, Reza Ashtarian, Sayaji Shinde, Nazar, Dharmavarapu, Brahmanadam, Ali, Venu Madhav, MS Narayana appear in small roles and contribute whatever they can in the short screen time.
Sadly Shakti does not seem to have much 'shakti' to sustain. Even NTR tries to save the film but cannot do a lot.