Sundeep Kishan is certain to score biggest hit in his career with the sports drama A1 Express which is a partial remake of Tamil hit Natpe Thunai. Director Dennis Jeevan Kanukolanu and his writing team claimed to have rewritten the script and it is indeed biggest budgeted film for Sundeep Kishan. Lavanya Tripathi pared opposite Sundeep Kishan for the second time. Let’s see whether the film will live up to the expectations.
A happy-go-lucky guy Sundeep Naidu (Sundeep Kishan), who once was a Jr National Hockey Team Captain and is now willing to settle in France due to some reasons, goes to his uncle’s place in Yanam where he falls in love with a local hockey player Lavanya Rao (Lavanya Tripathi). A retired military man Sharma (Murali Sharma) who is as honest as Indian soldier in the border trains boys and girls in the stadium which is a symbol of pride for the locals. Meanwhile, a corporate company with the help of sports minister Rao Ramesh (Rao Ramesh) plans to grab the stadium and construct a pharma company there. Sundeep joins hands with the coach to save the ground from being taken over by the corrupt minister and MNC.
The core story of the film is taken from Natpe Thunai which is obviously inspired by super hit sports drama films like Chak De and Lagaan. However, A1 Express puts forth some contemporary issues about the politics and business surrounding sports in the country through a problem concerning a historic hockey ground. Director Dennis Jeevan Kanukolanu has got a script which has the scope to dramatize most of the portions. But, he somehow failed to utilize all the resources he is provided with. A better taking should have taken the film to next level for sure. Thankfully, good performances, technical support made this an interesting watch.
Kavin Raj’s slow motion shots are fascinating to eyes, particularly in hockey scenes. Hiphop Tamizha gave the energy with his stimulating score. Songs are youthful and are enjoyable on screen as well. Chota K Prasad’s editing too adds to the positives. The film looks grand and lavish, thanks to the high technical values and the top-notch production values.
Onto artists, Sundeep Kishan gets a role that is needed for him to showcase all his expertise. It’s not just about playing a hockey. There is a romantic track, friendship and of course drama. Underwent a complete makeover, Sundeep has excelled in the role. His hard work is witnessed in hockey portions, as he played the shots with ease. Lavanya Tripathi’s role is brief, but it has scope to perform. Murali Sharma is remarkable as coach and Rao Ramesh is usual as a corrupt politician. Rahul Ramakrishna and Priyadarshi’s roles will connect to every youth who respect friendship. Raghu Babu and Posani Krishna Murali are okay in their respective roles. Mahesh Vitta and Satya provide some comic relief. Others played their parts.
Lack Of Emotional Connectivity
If made with right emotions and drama, sports drama films have the advantage of engaging viewers. A1 Express has that advantage, but director Dennis not completely utilized it. Though we enjoy the lengthy hockey game, still we feel ‘something is missing’. It is a not a typical sports film, but is laced with commercial cinema elements on friendship, sacrifice and the corruption within the political system. The way politics affects the lives of these hockey players were credibly shown.
Due to thin storyline, the entire first half consists of fillers. The story behind the hockey stadium is narrated interestingly with 2D animation and it describes why the stadium is an emotion to the locals. But, then hero who comes on a purpose, but at no point does the film show him working towards it. The romantic track lacked freshness, except for showing Lavanya Tripathi as a rowdy girl who rides bikes and drinks beer on balcony. However, the interval episode is the best part in the first half, as it unveils the real identity of the protagonist as a professional hockey player.
After the amazing interval episode, the film tries to make us invest in the plot and take it seriously. There is an emotional flashback portion, that showcases hero’s friendship with his two best buddies. After all the drama, we get to see 23 minutes of lengthy hockey episode which lacked the emotional connectivity. The drama that is needed for these portions is not there.
On the whole, A1 Express is a moderate sports drama film that lacked emotional connectivity. Director Dennis showed his inexperience in dealing crucial episodes of the film. Thankfully, all the technicians gave their best to make it an interesting watch. Mainly, Hiohop Tamizha’s background score uplifts the hockey portions. CJ goes with 2.5 star rating and it is worth-watching once.