Film: 'Baaji'; Director: Shidlaghatta Sreenivas; Cast: Alok, Raani, Anant Nag, Rangaayana Raghu, Kishor and Layendra; Music: G.R. Shankar; Rating: *1/2
'Baaji' is the launch pad for Alok, the son of popular actor-director Kashinath. The film is about betting in cricket and one would think it might be a remake of Hindi flick 'Jannat', but within a few scenes it becomes clear that 'Baaji' has taken a different path altogether.
Alok has definitely made a convincing debut in the film. He looks confident and cool in the action and dance sequences. And like many films catering to the youth, director Shidlaghatta Sreenivas has also given more prominence to action and dance sequences.
But it would have been better if the director had focussed a little more on the story. It seems he wanted to tell too many things in his first film, but the tedious narration plays spoilsport.
Sreenivas has worked as an associate director for several films and has also directed many successful TV serials, but he has faltered on many counts while making 'Baaji', including the selection of artistes.
While Alok proves to be a good choice, actress Raani appears to be miscast. Though she look good in the song sequences, she is found wanting in many important scenes.
The film starts off well but drags so much in the second half that you end up feeling sleepy by the end. Many sequences are unconvincing and incoherent and one actually waits for the movie to end.
'Baaji' revolves around a youngster who dares to take risks to achieve his goals. The film has Kittappa, who loses millions of rupees in betting on India-Pakistan cricket matches. His one-time sidekick Abdul Khan is now a big don in Mumbai who is also involved in betting.
Abdul Khan comes to Bangalore to get his money from Kittappa, but instead takes a liking to his daughter Priya, who is in love with another guy called Abhi.
In a turn of events, Baaji kidnaps Priya and keeps her in his house. The ending is predictably happy where Baaji gets his love.
Alok proves to be good hero material and shows great energy levels in his role. Anant Nag, Rangayana Raghu and Kishor have predictable roles and they have handled it well.
Surprisingly G.R. Shankar, who created some good tunes for 'Orata', fails to come up with catchy numbers in the film. The camera work is average.
'Baaji' is a let-down, but one can watch it for the new hero Alok.