Audience drama with a generous dose of masala

History: Three girls find themselves charged with attempted murder after escaping sexual assault. Their only hope is an alcoholic lawyer who agrees to take up the case.

See again: Come Sriram’s Vakeel Saab is an official remake of the Bollywood hit Pink, a film that has succeeded in breaking down barriers and sparking conversations, especially around consent. While the film has been tweaked with a generous dose of masala to not only suit Pawan Kalyan’s star image but also his budding political career, Venu manages to strike the right balance for the most part.

Pallavi (Nivetha Thomas), Zareen (Anjali) and Divya (Ananya Nagalla) are roommates who work hard for a living for their middle class families. Their happy, simple and carefree life quickly turns upside down due to an unhappy encounter one night. Facing solicitation and attempted murder charges, the girls find themselves painted in a corner by an influential man and his friends.

Vakeel Saab aka Konidela Satyadev (Pawan Kalyan) is an alcoholic lawyer who has not returned to court since the day he was suspended a few years ago. He drinks to hide the pain of a past that he cannot correct and to hide his guilt that he cannot let go. But when he seems to be the only hope for these girls to prove their innocence, he comes together and fights for them.

Towards the end of the movie, Satyadev beats up a few morons and says: “Court lo vadinchadam telusu, coat teesi kottadamu telusu. (I know how to fight both in and out of court.) This dialogue shows just how different his character is from Deepak Sehgal, Amitabh Bachchan’s character from the original. Where Deepak takes the path of at least the best and subtlety, with a touch of sarcasm, Satyadev believes in doing everything – whether it is with his sarcasm or his fists. Venu Sriram does a good job of setting up his character and while his story in the first half-foot Shruti Haasan as his wife may seem unimportant at first and is a test for patience, the film looks back on the way Satyadev cannot change who he is at the end of the day, whether at a protest or in court. Pawan Kalyan also seems comfortable in the skin of his character.

Nivetha carries the weight of the film after him and few of the scenes featuring her are not only heartbreaking, but also painful to watch. But then again, the predicament she finds herself in is a harsh reality for many women in this country. Anjali comes in second with her character Zareen, who always seems to give off a calm exterior but is simmering just below the surface. Ananya’s character, Divya, doesn’t have too many lines, but she manages to make her presence felt in what she’s given. The same goes for Shruti Haasan, even though her character doesn’t have enough time or space for us to sympathize with her. Prakash Raj plays Nanda ji who Satyadev faces in court, he easily succeeds.

Venu Sriram sticks to the plot of Pink for the most part, but polishes the storyline given how differently Pawan Kalyan’s character has been fleshed out. Two fight scenes in particular, while being stylish, seem set for the devil and don’t freeze well with the flow of the film. Thaman’s songs also manage to get the job done, but it’s the background music where he really shines and gives it all. Now the question remains whether Vakeel Saab manages to make you as uncomfortable as Pink done due to the nature of the crime, especially in court scenes. This is not the case, as Satyadev’s dialogues in these scenes are placed to elicit whistles while getting the point across, diluting the problem. And despite all this friction of the neck and this turn of the table, Satyadev takes advantage of his time in court to clarify that “no means no”. In the end, that’s all that matters.

Check out this one for performance, especially if you’re a fan of Pawan Kalyan, Nivetha Thomas, and Anjali. Also check it out if you are a fan of masala boilers backed by a strong message. But if you are a fan of Pink, Keep your expectations under control, as the movie doesn’t even have the name of the women or the cause it fights for.