Director Vassishta has a good command over the fantasy genre and extracts fine performances from his cast
Last Updated: 01.46 PM, Aug 05, 2022
After the death of his father, Bimbisara attempts to kill his twin brother Devadatta and take over the Trigartala kingdom. Bimbisara, with his amplified ego and lust for power, creates havoc in the life of his subjects. Meanwhile, in the contemporary era, a corrupt medico is after a treatise on Dhanwantari that could propel him to great heights. What links Bimbisara to another timeline? Will he change for the better? What’s the future of the Trigartala kingdom?
Many believe that the socio-fantasy genre in Telugu cinema died a silent death in recent years. However, debutant Vassishta embraces it with renewed enthusiasm and lends it a delicious, contemporary twist with Bimbisara. He creates a unique blend of folklore, sci-fi and socio-fantasy genres and packages an engaging mainstream fare. The film has several emotional layers, the storytelling is focused and also provides all the highs that a viewer expects out of a conventional masala potboiler.
Bimbisara is great fun to watch in its folklore segment dating back to the fifth century. It’s relieving to see a mainstream actor going all out to play an unlikeable king like Bimbisara. Kalyan Ram sinks his teeth into this opportunity and he gets everything about the avatar right - the gait, the dialogue delivery, the body language. Complemented by MM Keeravaani’s thumping background score, Vassishta makes the story of a barbarian look compelling.
The writer, director builds the little details of the fantasy world well that reminds us a lot of Vithalacharya’s films back in the 60s. There’s a magical mirror that helps characters go back and forth between two timelines. There are boons, curses, vows and spirits locked inside glass boxes. While one of Bimbisara’s aides wants to usurp power from him, another aide prefers to stay by his side and flatter him to death. Bimbisara doesn’t merely kill his enemies, he wants to be feared.
The narrative finds a smart way to inject humour into the proceedings as Bimbisara traverses across timelines and struggles to adapt to a new world. The story of Bimbisara is ultimately about the transformation of a tyrannical ruler into a compassionate human being. Vassishta builds the emotional foundation of his transformation with sensible writing. A memorable sequence that confirms the director’s mettle is one where Bimbisara kicks a visually challenged man and is schooled by a priest later.
The song ‘Eeshwarude’ arrives at a brilliant situation where Bimbisara takes time to reflect on his life and the many mistakes he had committed earlier. The character of a young girl is the catalyst for Bimbisara’s transformation from one timeline to the other. From mistreating and killing his innocent subjects, Bimbisara transforms into a man who’d go to any length to protect his loved ones. MM Keeravaani’s experience with the background score comes in handy during the film’s crucial moments. He truly understands the expectations of a mainstream cinema viewer.
In a nutshell, ‘Don’t let your ego get the better of you’ is exactly what Bimbisara strives to tell. There are several smart twists to keep you glued. The so-called mass moments may have appeared over the top in any other film, but given the fact that you’re dealing with a character of an overly powerful barbarian, you don’t quite mind the cinematic liberties.
Both the female lead characters, the royal princess Aira and the cop Vyjayanthi, lack substance. Catherine Tresa is surprisingly good as the ambitious Aira and it’s disappointing that her character is suddenly abandoned in the second hour. Samyuktha Menon proves she can be good with comedy. The film doesn’t go overboard with the antagonist Subramanya Shastri’s character though the casting of Vivan Bhatena is inept. He doesn’t add any value to the proceedings at all.
All said and done, one has to give credit to Kalyan Ram for shouldering the challenging blend of genres with assurance in Bimbisara. He is ideally suited for the fantasy segments and one hopes to see him dive into this space more often. It’s appreciative that he doesn’t come in the way of the director’s creative choices. Experienced hands like Prakash Raj, Rajeev Kanakala, Srinivas Reddy, and Vennela Kishore make an impact while they last. Among the songs, Tene Palukula is the pick of the lot.
The VFX/CG work for the film is very impressive, more so with the budgetary limitations and the frames look dreamy while still being rooted in reality. This is cinematographer Chota K Naidu’s finest work in recent years while the editor Tammi Raju ensures a coherent, engaging narrative that hardly loses momentum.
Bimbisara is a fine example to prove that you needn’t try anything out of the box to entertain an average viewer. All that director Vassishta does is to give a timely upgrade to the socio-fantasy genre within the formula of a masala film and extracts commendable performances from his cast. This is undoubtedly Kalyan Ram’s career best. If paisa vasool entertainment is what you’re longing for, don’t miss Bimbisara.