- Critic's Rating - 8.5/108.5/10
Agent Sai Srinivasa Aathreya is a new Indie Telugu film, starting Naveen Polisetty whose claim to fame was his mind-blowing rant in the famous AIB video. Naveen and the film’s director Swaroop have brought to us ‘ Agent Sai Srinivasa Aathreya ‘, a full-blown Detective drama, a genre severely ignored in Indian films.
Agent Sai is a Detective in Nellore and his organization is FBI ( Fatima Bureau of Investigation ) named after his first love. This is the way Swaroop treats this film and the character. The film does not take itself seriously or its central character. Agent is a goofy young wanna be detective with a knack of solving petty cases, by using the knowledge he gained from cinema. In a fascinating scene, he shows the suspense classics from Hollywood to his newly appointed assistant. The list includes, The Usual Suspects, The Departed, Catch me If you Can. One would imagine that the plot of these specific movies might be holding a clue to the plot of the film, but they do not and that is where Agent Sai Srinivasa Aathreya wins. It never tried to be smart, it is just honest.
Agent Sai Srinivasa Aathreya is a genre film that, not for a moment, deviates from its narrative. The makers succeed in creating a beautifully realized world. Although shot mostly in Nellore and outskirts of Andhra, the film feels as if it is set in a World of its own. The director manages to marry the bustle of the routine and the aesthetics of a Detective drama neatly, resulting in a crisply designed film that does not feel alien to a regular audience. The cinematographer and the director seem to be in perfect sync with regard to the visual treatment of the film. In suspense dramas, exposition becomes the tricky part. One cannot spoon-feed the audience, nor can one risk being misunderstood. This film hits the nail on the head. The scenes where a character speaks out their plan or their understanding of a situation, it is delivered with such earnestness that, the information is slipped through without the audience connect being hampered. The screenplay is fantastic. There are sequences in the film that are written so beautifully that these long sequences end in minor surprises, every now and then, keeping you completely invested in the proceedings without the need of any major plot twist.
Navin Polishetty is impeccable. In his first performance as a lead he has hit it out of the park. He shines every time he breaks down. The feeling is genuine. The comedic scenes are carried out with utmost grace, instead of turning cartoonish. The first 20 minutes of the film ease you into the World of Agent Sai, as we understand him and his goofy self but with a simmering pain and determination under the hysterics of wearing suits, a hat and smoking a cigarette. Navin’s disarming charm powers the film and his presence makes the complicated second half, easier to follow.
This film boasts of an extremely well written script. The writing, not only manages to keep you engaged for the entirety of the film but also fulfils the thematic function of the script, which is to address Superstition and the business of human Fear and Faith. The film goes from being a Crime drama to a social commentary piece but not once does it look preachy. The skill with which the film is executed is applause-worthy. References to the bigger theme of the film, superstitions are sprinkled all along the way, hinting at the bigger picture.
Agent Sai Srinivasa Aathreya is a love letter from a fascinated kid to Sherlock. Smartly, neither Aathreya nor the film try to be Sherlock. Agent Sai Srinivasa Aathreya is an amazing watch. Fun is a word you would associate with this film but, nonchalantly, it takes you on a rather grim ride, laced with humour. A sincere film, made by a passionate team. Kudos.