‘Srikanth’: An Honest and Understated Biopic that Goes beyond Glorification

By Dhaval Roy

Story: The biopic follows the journey of the visually-impaired industrialist Srikanth Bolla (Rajkummar Rao), his educational and entrepreneurial challenges, and how he overcame them with the help of his teacher and business partner.

Review: When a famous personality’s tale is fictionalised for the silver screen, you can expect a biopic that revels in glorification. Srikanth, on the other hand, takes a refreshingly honest and understated approach. The narrative abstains from the larger-than-life hero trope, opting for a subtler portrayal.

Writers Sumit Purohit and Jagdeep Sidhu’s narrative is simple and doesn’t have the scope for pumped-up energy or thrills of a sports drama or a historical event. Still, director Tushar Hiranandani keeps one engaged, focusing on the strength of a visually-impaired man who overcomes challenges not with pity, but with intelligence and by outsmarting situations. He also influences the much-needed change in how persons with disabilities (PwDs) are viewed and treated in the country.

While the film effectively showcases Srikanth’s challenges with the Indian educational system and professional opportunities, it occasionally falls into the trap of repeating thoughts. For instance, society’s belief that blind people can only resort to begging or making candles to earn a living. Or, people sceptics walking out while Srikanth is still talking.

The movie also highlights the stark contrast between India and the West. Indian universities reject Srikanth despite him topping the 12th board exams, but he is accepted by four international universities purely on merit. It also presents India’s lack of road safety and poor infrastructure.

Rajkummar Rao delivers a powerful performance as Srikanth, particularly excelling in portraying the character’s internal struggles that come with success. He shines in the scenes when his indignation turns into insecurity and the endearing quality of laughing at himself. There’s a scene when Srikanth trips, hurts his forehead, and fools his girlfriend, Swati (Alaya F) that he’s got his eyesight back. While Rao convincingly portrays the adult Srikanth, the depiction of his teenage years seems a tad unconvincing. Jyothika is equally impressive as Devika, Srikanth’s supportive teacher. Sharad Kelkar plays his friend, mentor, supporter, and business partner, Ravi, with finesse — he is the friend everyone needs, as he exudes quiet strength and understanding. Alaya F delivers a charming performance as Srikanth’s love interest. However, the character deserved more depth; her role could have extended beyond just being a romantic element in the story.

The film has hummable romantic tracks by Sachet-Parampara (Tu Mil Gaya and Tumhe Hi Apna Maana Hai), but the hero of the soundtrack is Papa Kehte Hain from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, recreated by Aditya Dev. Saxophonist ID Rao lends an anthem-like quality that heightens the film’s triumphant feel, especially in the second half, which evokes a range of emotions.

Breaking the biopic mold, Srikanth offers a refreshingly honest portrayal that celebrates potential over glorification. It will leave you feeling inspired and sparing a thought for those with disabilities who deserve human dignity and equal opportunities like all of us! — Times of India