For the most part, Senapathi is a riveting criminal drama, but Rajendra Prasad and Naresh Agastaya steal the show.
Critic’s Rating: 3.5/5
When a young officer loses his service weapon while pursuing a criminal, the man who ends up with it has a plan.
Senapathi, directed by Pavan Sadineni, is a gripping crime drama based on the Tamil film 8 Thottakkal and the Japanese neo-noir film Stray Dog. The film keeps you interested for the most part, enticing you not just with the crime side of it, but also with the emotional hook in the form of two people.
Krishna (Naresh Agastya) gets framed for murder as a child and grows up in a juvenile facility. A kind-hearted warden who begs him to become a police officer to protect others like him from being mistreated by the system keeps him from becoming jaded. Krishna is optimistic about making a difference as an IPS officer, but he loses his service gun during a chase, putting his future in peril.
Krishna Murthy (Rajendra Prasad) is on the other end of the spectrum, a much older guy who has already been defeated by the system. He is the one who finds the lost handgun, resulting in a cat-and-mouse pursuit.
Senapathi is almost like a slow burn — what begins as a typical crime thriller quickly makes time to dive deeper into the individuals and their reasons. Not only are Krishna and Murthy fully explored, but also Paramjyothi (Harsha Vardhan), who is brought in to clean up the mess, a journalist named Satya (Gnaneswati Kandregula), Murthy’s sidekicks Hussain (Rakendu Mouli), and Raju (Josh Ravi).
However, the film works best when it keeps to the criminal aspect since, with the exception of one scene starring Rajendra Prasad and Agastya, the emotional moments get a little too much as the film develops.
Pavan also does an excellent job of contrasting the two Krishnas. The two performers also play off one other’s talents and their characters’ minute rhythms. Rajendra Prasad definitely steals the show as someone who is prepared to go to any length to acquire what he wants but has enough conscience to grieve his mistakes. He is an excellent choice for the job and demonstrates why he is known as ‘nata kireeti.’
Agastya manages to hold his own in a part that is diametrically opposed to his portrayal in Mathu Vadalara. He’s certainly here to stay, and he nails the character of the level-headed officer with ease. Harsha Vardhan also impresses in the bizarre part he is given, and the events get more interesting once his character enters the fray.
Senapathi may not always get every beat perfect, but the film shines because of the technical section as well. The music by Shravan Bharadwaj and the cinematography by Vivek Kalepu provide dimension to the film. Give it a go if you haven’t already.