Review: A1 Express(Sundeep Kishan, Lavanya Tripathi)
'A1 Express' hit the cinemas today (March 5). This remake of a Tamil movie titled 'Natpe Thunai' has been touted to be the first hockey-based Telugu movie. Sundeep Kishan has described it as a massive sports-based film. Does the latest BO release live up to the expectations of the audience? Let's find out in our review.
Sundeep Kishan plays Sanju, a carefree youngster who wants to leave India and settle down in France. He falls in love with Lavanya (Lavanya Tripathi), a hockey player trained by a retired military man (played by Murali Sharma) on a ground that is a temple for locals.
Rao Ramesh plays a Sports Minister who wants to take over the ground and hand it over to an industrialist. The team inhabiting the ground has to win a club-level hockey match if they have to save the ground from corporate takeover. This is when Sanju's true identity is revealed in a flashback.
For Sundeep Kishan, the role of a passionate sportsman seems to have been an easy job. He looks intense in the sports scenes, especially in the climax. The romantic and comedy scenes could have been better in terms of his performance. Lavanya Tripathi, known for girl-next-door roles, plays a hockey player fairly well. Rao Ramesh plays the antagonist's role with ease. As a cynical politician, he packs a punch. Dayanand Reddy as a coach is good but it is Murali Sharma, who is also a coach, who steals the show. Priyadarshi is superb, while Rahul Ramakrishna, Mahesh Vitta, Satya and Khayyum Ali are just about okay.
Music director Hiphop Tamizha delivers fairly good music with 'Single Kingulam' and 'Amigo'. And it is the background score that enlivens the movie, especially the hockey scenes. Hiphop was the hero of the Tamil version. It is not an easy ask to crank the camera for a sports film and cinematographer Kavin Raj shows technical calibre. Art Direction by Faisal Ali Khan is another plus.
Writers Sreekanth, Devesh and Jeyachandran pen a formulaic sports-drama that comes across as a winsome script on paper. The first half goes into staging the rom-com scenes between the lead pair, besides telling us a great deal about the politician-sports complex.
Some of the portions are too straightforward. However, the emotional weight of the film is strong enough. That's why the film doesn't feel amiss. Director Dennis Jeevan takes care of the emotions well.
Although we don't see Lavanya playing hockey much, she looks the part of a player. Murali Sharma's scenes with his teammates and the compromised sports director (played by Raghu Babu) stand out. He is an actor who has successfully replaced Prakash Raj. Even Rao Ramesh, whose antics are enjoyable, is overshadowed by his subtle act.
The second half comes with a flashback, which has its share of cliched storytelling. Even so, the emotional connect saves 'A1 Express' from sinking. The climax match between the hero's team and their rival could have been staged way better. There are no edge-of-the-seat moments in it.
'A1 Express' is a true-blue formula sports drama. That said, it is also watchable because of how it tells the story. Give it a try with low expectations.