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Circle review: Baba Bhaskar holds the fort in Neelakanta’s middling thriller

Despite Baba Bhaskar’s performance, catchy premise and technical finesse, the thriller runs out of fuel quickly

Circle review: Baba Bhaskar holds the fort in Neelakanta’s middling thriller

Last Updated: 02.35 PM, Feb 26, 2024



Kailash is a renowned photographer struggling to move past his turbulent heartbreak. Much to his shock, he is greeted by a contract killer in his flat. While Kailash claims he doesn’t have any enemies in his life, he only has a couple of hours to unlock clues from his past and find answers. Who among Malvika, Arundhati and Himani is the mastermind behind this move?


Right from Missamma to Nandanavanam 120 kms and Maaya, Neelakanta has displayed a flair for the thriller genre over the years and has tasted considerable success with it. He returns to Telugu cinema after a 9-year-long sabbatical with another tale in his pet zone, Circle. The thriller is deceptively packaged and starts with a lot of promise, only to disappoint with its unsatisfying resolution.


A contract killer gives the protagonist Kailash a chance to revisit his past and identify the person who wants him dead. The film takes the viewer through three (un)eventful episodes in Kailash’s life, precisely relationships that ended on a sour note. The wackiness of this setup and the sharp screenplay keeps you hooked in the first hour.

Impressively enough, the antagonist and protagonist have equally well-defined roles in the story. The witty, laidback characterisation of Baba Bhaskar’s Ganesh, who has a wacky sense of humour, and the colourful past of the mysterious Kailash merits your interest. Their catchy dialogues, the verbal exchanges are among the major attractions of the first hour.

Among Kailash’s flashback episodes, his tryst with an artist Arundhati is the pick of the lot; the treatment of their relationship is very today, discussing the ramifications of flings, commitment issues. With the second thread - centred on Malvika - it appears that the writer conveniently antagonises her, without trying to look at the relationship from her end.

The racy screenplay (before the intermission) helps us overlook a few of the film’s issues. However, the film is on a different tangent post interval. The third subplot focusing on a ‘royal’ affair is the weakest segment with Arshin Mehta’s odd dialogue delivery, the melodrama and the snail-paced proceedings. Circle slumps further in the final act with the sudden transformation of a pivotal character and a barely convincing twist.

The pre-climax portions lack emotional depth and the drastic behavioural changes in characters don’t make much sense. Circle is indeed honest in its attempt to understand the life of a photographer but his flashback episodes needed more zing and novelty. The antagonist’s character graph could’ve been imagined better and his transformation is more cinematic than organic.

On the technical front, the lighting sense, inventive colour play, symmetrical frames and specific thematic (music) scores for each of the episodes in Kailash’s past reflect the team’s eye for detailing and enhance the impact of seemingly ordinary sequences. The locations, production design and the imagery contribute immensely to its visual appeal.

Most of the lead actors - Sai Ronak, Richi Panai, Naina - pitch in with assured performances. Sai Ronak is progressing as a performer with every performance while Richi Panai proves she still has a lot to offer in terms of her acting talents. Arshin Mehta’s strange dialogue delivery undermines her good screen presence. All said and done, Baba Bhaskar is the show stealer as the effortlessly cool, ’local’ villain.


Circle boasts good performances, a catchy premise and technical appeal but it needed better writing and emotional depth. This isn’t the standard one expects from a filmmaker as capable as Neelakanta.

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