White Guy Watches Bollywood

A random white guy engages with contemporary Indian cinema... one movie at a time

Rebel Star Prabhas

Telugu Movie Review: Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire may only be half a story, but it still feels like the most massive epic of the year

Prabhas stars in "Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire," here reviewed by White Guy Watches Bollywood.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt as utterly exhausted by a film as I was by Salaar: Part 1 – Ceasefire, which crams what seems like multiple Greek tragedies worth of material into just under three hours. And yet, despite the sheer volume of characters and story involved in the movie, it’s still basically all just exposition laying the groundwork for Part 2, which is currently in production and aiming for a release next year. Not only that, but even after this amount of setup, there remain a great number of mysteries left to be unraveled in Part 2, including how a few key characters in Part 1 connect to the main story being told in the first place. The utter enormity of what is being attempted in this saga is daunting, though at this point, one would expect no less from writer/director Prashant Neel, the mastermind behind the K.G.F. films.

For as much of an endurance test as this mythology-heavy movie is, I don’t want to imply that it is in any way joyless or a slog. Neel and the cast do a very good job of getting the viewer invested right from the outset, so that there is no temptation to give up on the mysteries of the story before the answers are finally revealed. From the very first sequence, where we meet main characters Deva and Vardha as children in a rousing moment of public uproar that will have ramifications for the rest of their lives, I “bought in” due to the sheer intensity of emotion evoked. That intensity is largely maintained after we fast-forward a couple decades and meet Aadhya (Shruti Hassan), whose life ties into Deva and Vardha’s saga in enigmatic ways that land her in mortal danger upon returning to her family’s homeland of India.

Aadhya’s story intersects with that of an adult Deva (“Rebel Star” Prabhas), who has already been established as the hero of this saga as a child, with the royal-blooded Vardha dubbing him “Salaar” (a name that means “leader, chief, or commander”). Living as an outcast in a remote area of India with his mother (Easwari Rao), it’s immediately apparent that Deva will play a key role in protecting Aadhya’s life – and not simply because he’s played by the effortlessly magnetic and heroic-seeming Prabhas. Equally apparent is that this undertaking is going to serve as an epic, violent referendum on the past. As a child, Deva vowed to always protect Vardha, which, needless to say, has not resulted in an easy life given the conflicts surrounding Vardha’s royal family.

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