Nikhil is known for his hatke films. From Swamy Ra Ra to Ekkadiki Potaavu Chinnavaada, all his films tried to defy the basic, tried-and-tested plot-lines. Their box-office outcomes notwithstanding, it’s an impressive body of work that the man would be proud of in hindsight one day. When the trailer for his latest film, Kesava, was out, it looked promising. In the trailer, Nikhil’s Kesava tells us that his heart is on his right side, and because of this, it threatens to take his life even at the slightest provocation. As a result, he cannot participate in sports. He cannot watch horror films. You get the idea. Now this part, I thought, was merely a variation of the “problem” his character has in Surya vs Surya. In any case, I did not let this idea blur my view of the film.
And it did not. Because it is pretty much non-existent in the film. What you hear in the trailer regarding his right-side-heart thing, is all you see in the film. Well, apart from just two another sequences. This angle to his character was not one bit important. It doesn’t have anything to do with the story whatsoever. This story would have the exact same value and reception, irrespective of which side the protagonist has his heart. So, that’s one thing I failed to understand. And it is not like we’re given much insight into why the heart is on the right side of his body and how ELSE this affects the man. A bit of internet research tells me this condition is called Dextrocardia. Further reading on the topic also tells me that there was a lot of room for this condition to be explored in the movie, used to tell the tale effectively, even, but it wasn’t done. So anyway, it suffices to say that this medical condition the protagonist has in the film is of no use and mentioning it in the trailer only raised a few expectations which the film eventually did not meet.
It is a revenge story. The dude and his family meet with an accident one fateful night and the dude’s life changes forever. Cut to the present, the dude’s set out for revenge, killing one after another person who was in the other car that night. Turns out, there’s more to this accident than that meets the eye.
A few minutes shy of two good hours, Kesava is watchable in parts. For a film of this genre and length, you’d think it’s racy but I did want to fast-forward it at certain places. The subject is such that you can play around with it, twist and turn it, throw in some wow elements and create a taut thriller. On the contrary, Kesava is one-note, rather linear and for the most part, bland. At the risk of making it sound like a rant, I would like to mention here that the film would have worked better if Kesava had his heart on the left side. Because then, he would not think twice to emote the pain and grief and anger full throttle. With this whole right-side-heart shit, the protagonist’s emotions never completely find their vent. Subtlety and restrained display of emotions were aimed for, perhaps, but all we get is a powerless show. As a result, you cannot empathize with the hero’s struggles. You don’t feel for him, with him.
Fun fact: In the film, Nikhil is a law student by the day and killer by the night. Isha Koppikar, the special investigator working on these murder cases, is determined to catch the killer. For a film that has so much police and law in it, no law/police rules are taken into consideration. Instead, we get lines like, “Inko murder jarige mundare vaadini manam pattukovali”. You don’t say!? The police are dumb here, and a would-be lawyer is out killing people, taking law into his own hands. And a few other would-be lawyers assist him.
And the twist at the end can be seen from miles and miles away. The moment you see Rao Ramesh flash on the screen for just a scene, you know he’s going to come back. And you know his role would be one of importance. So not many surprises there.
Acting is consistently half-hearted, only Rao Ramesh being his usual fine self. Nikhil’s act is mostly limited by his poorly etched out character. Ritu Verma is forgettable. Priyadarshi is wasted. So is Ajay. Isha Koppikar’s character is all show and no substance.
Kesava is not a good thriller by any means. Disappointed!
I’m going with 1.5 out of 5!