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Upperstall Review




Telugu, Action, Drama, 2011, Color

Cast And Crew

Directed by
Produced by
Background Score

A New Delhi-bound flight from Chennai flight gets hijacked and a technical snag forces the aircraft to land in Tirupathi. The hijack group demands the release of their terrorist leader Yusuf Khan. Now, a team comprising the dynamic Home Secretary Vishwanath (Prakash Raj) and the intrepid NSG commando Ravindra (Nagarjuna) have to work towards releasing the hostages, negotiating with the terrorists and still maintain peace. In other words, they have to ensure this hijack drama with a happy ending.

Director Radha Mohan has shown his prowess in creating nice human stories in a small canvas with films like Mozhi (2007) and Abhiyum Naanum (2008). This time, he switches gear with an action thriller hijack drama and what's more, pulls it off. The storyline gives him ample scope to explore human emotions, high drama and finally, some fast action in the skies. Remember the Kandahar episode, the hijacking of Flight IC 814 in 1999? Well, the movie has reportedly been inspired by the same incident.

The first half of the movie introduces us to the various characters in the drama - a little girl with a heart disease, an anxious set of grandparents, a film crew, a film star who is also a commoner in real life hijack, a devout Christian priest, a cardiologist who does not hesitate to treat a terrorist, the naysayers, the optimistic ones and so on while the second half deals with how each one of them reacts to the hijack. In the midst of all this, the government tries to resolve it in its own lackadaisical manner while the NSG commandos must find ways to tackle the dreaded terrorists, protect the hostages and still make sure their decisions remain in the interest of the nation. While the storyline itself has been dealt in most previous commando stories (most Telugu cinegoers are familiar with the Tamil dubbed movies starring Vijaykanth or Arjun on similar lines), this one spends almost the entire running time on the hijack drama itself and stays faithful to its subject matter. The best scenes in the film are the ones where each passenger tries to keep up the other's spirits after the hijack. "Sometimes, it is the fear of dying that is worse than death itself", says a character, establishing the premise of the movie.

Gaganam, thankfully, focuses on a whole lot of characters and fleshes them out nicely without zeroing on the heroic and histrionic skills of 'hero' Nagarjuna alone. Prakash Raj has got perhaps the meatiest role of the Home Secretary and all but steals the show. He plays a bureaucrat caught in the government whirlpool and lethargy. Nagarjuna looks like a man who is more about brain than brawn. He plays the cool officer who thinks with his mind, and not his heart. It is refreshingly not a larger than a life character but a believable officer who has his own limitations. Bramhanandam as the film director provides comic relief with his twisted sense of humour. The rest of the cast is fine enough.

The movie is mostly shot indoors and must've been a challenge to cinematographer KV Guhan who still manages to keep the screen frames interesting. The commando action has been shot without unnecessary special effects and is again yes, believeable. The debate about media ethics and whether or not to help the terrorist in a coronary trauma have been handled well.

Overall, Gaganam is an engrossing commercial film no doubt but without too many obvious distractions (read masalas) in the form of unnecessary melodrama, duets or side tracks. A good watch if you enjoy a well-handled, fast-paced action drama on screen.

Upperstall review by: manjukalanidhi

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