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Top Gear review: Aadi Saikumar’s racy thriller makes for a good watch

Director Shashikanth’s edge-of-the-seat screenplay is backed by solid efforts from the technical crew, apt casting and has impressive performances

3/5rating
Top Gear review: Aadi Saikumar’s racy thriller makes for a good watch
Top Gear
  • Srivathsan Nadadhur

Last Updated: 06.09 PM, Dec 30, 2022

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Story:

Arjun is a cab driver who marries his girlfriend Aadhya against their parents’ wishes. Within their limitations, they lead a content life but their world turns topsy-turvy when small-time drug dealers Brahmaji and Rajesh take Arjun’s cab. A notorious gangster Siddharth is inching to catch hold of a huge quantity of drugs transported illegally from Mumbai to Hyderabad. The cops are determined to take charge of the situation after series of murders in the city. What connects Arjun to this mess?

Review:

Road thrillers aren’t exactly uncommon in Telugu cinema but rarely do we have a filmmaker who prioritises the viewing experience over the commercial packaging. First-time director Shashikanth takes that leap of faith to respect his audience’s intelligence while crafting a classy, on-the-move, near-song less film where there are minimal distractions or dips in momentum. The span of Top Gear is compact - it unfolds in a day and there’s enough tension in pacy storytelling to satisfy a thriller-enthusiast.

The director wastes no time in setting up the plot in his sharp two-hour narrative. A gangster is on his way from Mumbai to Hyderabad and many greedy men set their eyes on drugs worth crores, to be transported to the city. An ordinary cab driver is stuck amidst this notorious bunch and finds himself in a do-or-die situation to rescue his vulnerable wife. Is there any light at the end of the tunnel? Everything from the motive to the characterisation and pace works in favour of Top Gear.

Top Gear gets going quickly; the narration is focused, the dialogues are precise, the screenplay is engaging and there are no desperate measures to give it a commercial exterior. Amidst the anxiety in the story, there’s impressive dark humour to provide some relief for the viewer. The pitch-perfect casting, including the leads and the supporting lineup, brings authenticity to the setup and you relate to the characters instantly.

The film is packed with events (err..deaths) and there’s little space to breathe. The linear narrative progresses seamlessly and there’s enough intelligence and complexity in the way Shashikanth builds his conflict. At no point the film feels like the work of a debutant and it’s impressive that the makers and actors trust a first-timer’s vision to execute such a plot. Top Gear is a fine mix of style and substance for the most part though the post-intermission portions get slightly repetitive.

Aadi Saikumar, especially after Crazy Fellow, is finally getting scripts that complement his strengths. In a film like Top Gear, all he had to do was to trust the director and it pays off well. Majnu girl Riya Suman fits her part well in a brief role. However, it’s the supporting cast comprising Satyam Rajesh, Shatru, Brahmaji, Mime Gopi, Narra Srinu, Ravi Prakash that does the heavylifting with aplomb.

Composer Harshavardhan Rameshwar’s background score proves to be an asset in furthering the impact of the screenplay and this is easily the musician’s best work post Arjun Reddy. Cinematographer Sai Sriram uses the diversity of his locations to his advantage and the well-lit frames complement the crisp, sharp edits, ensuring neat scene transitions.

The chases and the action sequences are filmed realistically and for a change, the protagonist isn’t an all-too-powerful hero and looks vulnerable on many occasions. The key climactic twists provide a good high and Shashikanth intentionally leaves the narrative open-ended (is there a sequel on cards?). Top Gear, on the whole, makes for a good watch and it’s director Shashikanth’s show all the way.

Verdict:

Top Gear is an engaging thriller with a sharp screenplay, apt casting and impressive efforts from the technical crew (the cinematography and music in particular). Aadi Saikumar is well-aided by a strong supporting cast while surrendering to the director’s vision. The twists are smart and the crisp two-hour duration is equally helpful.

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