Sai Baba is one of the most memorable characters Nagarjuna has played so far and he’s one of the main reasons why Shirdi Sai works.
There’s an uncanny resemblance between the Shirdi Sai devotees who assembled from all walks of life and the audiences today who come to watch his movie. For that period of time, there’s absolutely no difference between two individuals, irrespective of their religion or faith, who submit themselves to the film.
But the real question is what do we learn in those two hours? The real success of Raghavendra Rao’s Shirdi Sai, lies in the message it tries to convey to an entire generation which has grown up in an age where ego, selfishness and individualism are ingrained quite deeply in the society. But do Shirdi Sai Baba’s teachings, which he had first taught more than 100 years ago, still hold true? Yes, they do.
The film opens sometime in mid 1800s when India was still ruled by the British. A young boy, who’s believed to the sixth incarnation of Lord Dattatreya, wanders into a village named Shirdi (in present day) Maharashtra and the villagers immediately recognize that he has an unusual spark which makes him the topic of discussion. Bhatia (Shayaji Shinde) is a moneylender who can’t stand the fact that this young boy has become quite famous and so drives the boy away from the village.
Many years later, the young boy returns and the villagers christens him Sai Baba (Nagarjuna).
The rest of the film depicts key incidents from Shirdi Sai Baba’s life and his devotees like Dasaganu (Srikanth), Lakshmi Bai (Rujuta Deshmukh), Radhakrishna Mai (Kamalinee Mukherjee), Mahalsapathi (Sarath Babu) and Baayija Bai (Vinaya Prasad) understand a lot about life through Baba’s teachings.
This isn’t the first time the life of Shirdi Sai Baba has been adapted to screen, but what separates this film from the rest is the way K Raghavendra Rao reiterates the real essence of Sai Baba’s teachings. There’s so much to learn from everything he says or does that the message the film tries to convey itself becomes more important than the events, from Sai’s life, which are depicted on screen.
Nagarjuna delivers a stellar performance as Sai Baba and the serenity in his eyes and his body language makes you forget his off-screen flamboyance. There’s no denying that it’s Nagarjuna all the way and the climax of the film is quite gripping. Among others, Srikanth, Rujuta Deshmukh and Kamalinee Mukherjee deliver credible performances. On the flip side, the comedy doesn’t quite work and the whole sequence featuring Srihari as Mr.Wales, an Englishman who realizes Sai Baba’s greatness, is too loud. The pace dips a bit in the second half. The film scores high in terms of art, costume design and casting. M M Keeravani’s background score and songs are mesmerizing. There are as many as thirteen songs in the film, yet they don’t hamper the narration. S Gopal Reddy’s cinematography is good.
At the end of the film, one can’t help but think if the film would have turned out to be even better had it encompassed some unknown aspects of Sai Baba’s life.
If you are an ardent devotee of Sai Baba, chances are that you know everything about Baba’s life. Yet, this film works because it has been made with a lot of heart and it’s never too late to learn how to lead a good life. There’s one such way and it’s called Saipatham.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Hemanth writes primarily about Telugu cinema, although he finds inspiration from the works of filmmakers like Woody Allen. Apart from writing, he spends most of his time on Twitter discussing about cinema, travel and life in Hyderabad.
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- I can relate to Shirdi Saibaba : Nagarjuna : Postnoon | September 6, 2012