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First things first – Saaho turns out to be a frustrating experience. Now that’s not as much as due to the fact that it is a bad film but because somewhere at the core of it there was a germ of an idea which could have bloomed to something special. When a film is plain bad then it is still understandable that it didn’t do well at so many levels. However when there are some redeeming factors about it, something that indeed is the case with Saaho, then it becomes all the more disappointing.

Had Saaho been a film with two hour duration, it could well have been a different kind of experience altogether. Prune the first couple of hours into just one hour and then retain the last one hour as it is and Saaho could have turned into a far better viewing experience. Reason being that there are so many tangents and (practically all) unnecessary songs that just didn’t have any place in the film’s narrative. However in order to give the film an epic appeal, and the fact that there was unlimited budget at his disposal meant that director Sujeeth went completely haywire in his storyline.

Just like Race 3, this one too has a family empire running underworld business, there are clashes between those who believe themselves to be the rightful heir to the throne, there are double crossed and triple crosses, the heist angle is there and then there is an attempt made to bring a family twist to the tale as well, a la Godfather. The template of Saaho is pretty much the same as Race 3 in so many ways, especially when it comes to the action sequences as well as larger than life set up. Thankfully though, the last 40 minutes of the film are good and that makes Saaho a better viewing experience than Race 3.

That said, the performances of the lead pair are plain average. There isn’t much that you carry home about Prabhas as his performance comes across as rather lacklustre. He becomes better though as the film progresses. Shraddha Kapoor is plain average and goes through the motions. Comparatively, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Chunkey Pandey give their best. Both have a substantial role in the film and they shine with their screen presence as well as dialogue delivery.

As for the music, it just doesn’t work as none of the songs was needed. That said, the background score is appealing. Locations are quite good too, especially the outdoors, and that gives the film very grand look and feel. Action sequences become better and better with Prabhas’ entry being plain bad whereas the pre-climax and climax turning out to be the best part of the film.

In fact same can well be said about Sujeeth’s overall direction as well. The first and the second half seem to be directed by two different people. In the first half, the narrative is as haphazard as it gets with no coherence whatsoever. Who does what and why are some of the questions that keep playing in your mind. The interval point is quite good but then post interval the love angle belongs to the fast forward category. It is only when drama and action return to the fold that the film becomes interesting. In fact as the multiple angles unfold and different sequences with varied characters begin to intermingle do you actually feel like appreciating the team for the core idea that they were trying to expand.

This is what brings me to the earlier point around being exasperated and frustrated with what was offered to me as an audience. Had the focus been on the dramatic element and the politics behind finding the right heir to the gangsters’ throne, Saaho could well have turned out to be a far different and much better overall experience.