Review: It took Prashanth Neel to understand & accentuate the stardom of Prabhas in 'Salaar's dystopian world

The film seems a fitting end to 2023 that has pretty much been about hyperreal magnum opuses.

Salaar: Part 1 - Ceasefire

Salaar: Part 1 - Ceasefire

Prabhas! You can have a sigh of relief now; just in case you were as affected as the fans were with the recent track record. Almost nothing has worked in 'Rebel Star' Prabhas' favor post the Baahubali chapters, and with one disappointment after another, everyone started questioning his sustainability. But it can safely be said that it took a director like Prashanth Neel to understand, utilise and accentuate the towering persona of Prabhas to maximum effect and hide his limitations so cleverly that you barely care about it. But enough about him. Neel returns after the history-making KGF Chapter 2 with Salaar: Part 1 - Ceasefire, and having had the chance the originally intended Telugu version with subtitles, here's what I thought about it-

When Conviction Meets Vision


Let's address the multiple elephants in the room here and get it out of the way - No! There isn't any Rocking Star Yash cameo, and it has nothing to do with the KGF world either. You have to admire the sheer belief director Prashanth Neel has in his vision, storytelling and world-building. Admittedly, he mentioned how this film does have the 'KGF style', and he's right. But I can assure you it is only limited to the visual treatment. The dystopian world of Khansaar and the dark tones only act as a backdrop that Neel feels is the most effective to convey a story that is his own. 

A saga about two friends turning arch-enemies is actually set up in an intricate and complex way in this first instalment. It is true that Neel stays true to his signature style of frantic editing, rapid scene jumps and putting in way too much where it overflows the brim. But that's another conscious decision from the man where, seeing how people responded to the KGF chapters, he doesn't feel the need to simplify his story. 

World-Building, Intricacies & Setting Things Up


Mind you, the saga of Khansaar and the world outside is much more convoluted, geographically demanding and hyper-real while being dystopian. But even then, it's engaging, intriguing and, of course, filled with moments to whistle, hoot and cheer. If you have been living under a rock and somehow didn't watch the KGF chapters, you will find it difficult to keep a grasp on the scenes and story, but Neel demands that out of you now. It acted as a bigger factor for me as I saw it in Telugu with English subtitles. Any scene or even a small moment I missed might have led to losing an important link. But spanning almost three hours, Neel crafts a delicious world of the legend of a man and the people around it. It seems such a clever decision to have Prithviraj Sukumaran's Varadha Rajmannar only arrive really late in the story and still be there to talk about the maniac that is Deva, aka Salaar (Prabhas). That is because you will need that time and care for Varadha before these friends-turn-foes come at loggerheads in the second part.

Goriness and Accentuating a Legend


As the second half progressed, I kept wondering as to why this film received an A certificate. Well, just like Prabhas' knife slashes to multiple men, my question was slashed with the next scene where you see goriness and graphical violence at its best. To show how 'maniacal' Deva is, you see him slashing and cutting off people's hands, legs, and heads like a piece of cake, and Neel hasn't skimmed down in the visual treatment of it. Salaar: Part 1 - Ceasefire is possibly more complex than you would anticipate it to be, but it works more often than not. 

The big moment in the final minutes is also worth it as it sets things up for Part 2: Shouryaanga Parvam. The biggest welcome change here was to see Neel write and present powerful women characters and their presence which consists of the actress playing Prabhas' mother,  the actresses playing Obulamma, Radha Rama and so on. Even Shruti Haasan's Aadya, while still a trope in terms of characterisation, has a much better screen presence and role in proceedings than Srinidhi Shetty's Reena ever had in KGF chapters. She, pretty much, is our eyes to the world, who is thrown here but has no idea what's going on until narrated at length. The runtime might affect a few, and the background score might still be loud for a few others, but they just act as minor hindrances to this otherwise anarchical madcap saga.

The Verdict


Salaar: Part 1 - Ceasefire might be too much for you to fathom, but it is one director's unabashed faith and conviction in his storytelling, world-building and, of course, accentuating the legend of Salaar Devaratha Raisaar (Prabhas). The film seems a fitting end to 2023 that has pretty much been about hyperreal magnum opuses.

Rating - ***1/2 (3.5/5)

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Shruti Haasan Thumbnail

Shruti Haasan

Prithviraj Sukumaran Thumbnail

Prithviraj Sukumaran

Prabhas Thumbnail


Prashanth Neel Thumbnail

Prashanth Neel

KGF Chapter 1 poster

KGF Chapter 1

KGF Chapter 2 poster

KGF Chapter 2

Salaar poster


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