We meet Ashok (Prabhas) an undercover cop who is, apparently, the best in the business. David (Murali Sharma), apparently, the best computer specialist in the Mumbai police department, gives a grand introduction to Ashok’s resume as a secret cop. But what he doesn’t tell you is the super cop is a sexist. When Ashok is asked to pick his team from the police department to investigate a series of high-profile heists, his first choice is Amritha Nair (Shraddha Kapoor).
Ashok wants Amritha on his team not because she is very good at what she does. Or the fact that she comes with a deep understanding of the criminal world that would prove valuable to the investigation. She gets the case only because Ashok finds her too beautiful to ignore. Thus, begins her workplace harassment.
Ashok tells Amritha that he has no games at his office that woman could play. He seems to think that football is a highly masculine game. It’s a pity. He doesn’t stop at that. At one point, he asks her, “Despite being so beautiful, why would you join the police department?” In other words, he says she is too beautiful to be a cop. He even plays Sherlock Holmes as he tries to deduce information about her based on her dressing sense and the amount of time she spends on her mobile phone. Such a smug.
For all the pathbreaking work he has done in the criminal world, Ashok seems to have never met a real woman in his life. Why can’t Amritha be just another fellow human being with talent, ambition and strength to pursue her dreams?
Most of the action in the first half takes place around Ashok repeatedly saving Amritha. She can’t even stand up for herself when needed. Don’t worry Ashok will take a stand for her.
Director Sujeeth has conceived this problematic romantic sub-plot just to tick all the right boxes on the how-to-make-a-deeply-formulaic-potboiler list. This could have been a better film, only if Sujeeth had steered clear of the forced romance in the narration, that is supposed to be enthralling us with the inner culture of the world’s deadliest crime syndicate. Spending hundreds of crores cannot make up for the director’s inability to conjure up a decent story and screenplay.
The film opens in a fictional city, Waaji, which is somewhere beyond the Indian waters. It is a city overrun by cigar-smoking criminals. The city’s powerful syndicate is run by Roy (Jackie Shroff). After a small pep talk to his fellow criminals, Roy leaves for Mumbai and is murdered on his way to meet someone. At the same time, about Rs 2000 crore goes missing in Mumbai. And that’s when the police department decides to bring out its best cop, Ashok.
The world of Saaho has numerous high-rise building, futuristic gadgets, automobiles, guns, an ostrich, a black panther, a python and whatnot. But it doesn’t have a personality and culture of its own. Crime bosses puffing on cigars non-stop, wearing fancy suits and talking in a monotone voice is the stuff too old to fascinate the current audience.
All those years Sujeeth waited for Prabhas to complete Baahubali films, he could have worked on his drafts and added some value to his narration. The film feels like an overstretched foreplay leading to a climax, marked by a lengthy but interesting action set piece. The brilliantly composed chase and ensuing fistfights at the end are the only saving grace of this mammoth production.
Sujeeth seemingly wanted to create his comic-book version of a crime city like Gotham. But what he has managed to do is create an ostentatiously nonsensical film, which cannot be salvaged even if the makers are willing to spend another Rs 100 crore.