Srikanth Review: Blurs the boundary between teaching and preaching

Karishma Jangid
New Update

While 'Srikanth' presents valid insights into the challenges faced by disabled individuals, its patronising approach may leave one feeling somewhat discomfited.

Ever so often, in movies I watched, a protagonist would win and make a cocky remark with a smug look, accompanied by celebratory music. It irked me. But then I pondered, if violent and macho heroes can do this in repetitive masala movies, why can't a visually impaired protagonist do the same? This is a recurring point in 'Srikanth': disabled individuals deserve everything that able-bodied people do. They deserve the right to study, work, enjoy, make mistakes, and, most importantly, they have the right to live with dignity. 

As the film starts, we witness baby Srikanth Bolla aka Sri (Rajkummar Rao) being born blind. His parents are advised to kill or abandon him due to the perceived burden of caring for a disabled child. However, they choose to raise him. From birth, Sri faces constant struggles. Attending school, pursuing science in junior college, and gaining college admission all require tremendous effort. The film reiterates that, as a visually impaired person, Sri cannot afford to run for fear of falling. Thus, whenever faced with problems, which are many, Sri fights because that's his only option. Don’t worry! There are no spoilers here; the film closely mirrors Sri's life like a Wikipedia article, offering no new information.

Also Read: The Fall Guy review: Fun entertainer filled with action, romance, and movie magic!

The gaze is relatively fresh though especially as per Indian cinema standards. The film shows that we often underestimate disabled individuals due to their physical limitations when in reality, it's the indifferent system that poses the true obstacle. Unlike the usual pity, Srikanth adopts a heroic perspective. Sri lives as a hero, believing in his invincibility and proving himself right. He requires help like everyone but he is never at the mercy of anyone. Able-bodied individuals aren't glorified for acting as self-appointed saviours. Unlike most movies, Sri isn't exploited for inspiration; he prioritizes his own needs before others. He's ambitious, enjoys sports, experiences love, jokes around, and importantly, learns from mistakes. Finally, a decent portrayal of disabled people! Kudos!

While the representation is commendable, the plot falls short. The film feels like a sprint, jumping from one point to another. Conflict arises, resolves, and repeats. One watches a biopic to intimately understand the protagonist, yet Srikanth is too preoccupied with showcasing achievements to foster any real connection. The film preaches hard- each scene is a lesson. The movie takes too long to set up Sri's story but rushes to the climax. The climax could've made Sri seem more human by exploring his insecurities, but the movie keeps us at a distance and quickly solves every conflict. Also, it gets melodramatic, patronising us by telling us how to feel in every moment. Further, the film fails to showcase the actors' strengths adequately. Rao dominates the screen time, leaving minimal opportunities for others. Jyothika as Devika teacher shines in her limited moments but her character's potential remains unexplored. Alaya F's presence as Sri’s partner Swathi is fleeting. However, a notable performance is delivered by Sharad Kelkar as Sri's business partner, Ravi Mantha.

Even though on screen, one man conquered the world, the real world still has a lot to learn. Even though the biopic of a disabled person is on the screen, most theatres remain inaccessible to disabled people; the audience for this film comprised solely of able-bodied individuals. In fact, our buildings, schools, roads, transport, parks, and other places and facilities are mostly designed for able-bodied experiences. Our infrastructure caters more to able-bodied people, as do our professional, governmental, and other systems. As long as this inequality exists, a need for movies like Srikanth will remain. Srikanth, though less entertaining and more preachy, is a good start in that direction.

Srikanth is currently playing in theatres.

For more updates, follow us on @socialketchupbinge.

srikanth srikanth bolla Srikanth review