Debutant director R. Rajasekhar, an associate of Suresh Krishna, attempts to present the truth (Sathyam) about so-called police encounters which has no legal sanction. If one goes by newspaper reports, these encounters are staged as a last resort to fight terror or liquidate anti-socials evading the police dragnet.
Rajasekhar portrays the ground reality, as experienced by him during his stint as a journalist, which he believes is quite contrary to what is made to appear as legitimate police action in the interests of society. This is Vishal’s biggest film so far. He appears in a complete make-over. He sports a lean mean tough six-pack abs look in his role of an Assistant Commissioner of Police who is an encounter specialist seeking to expose the hard truth and get justice. Six-films-old Vishal is also seen in this film with a tonsured head.
Vikram Krishna of GK Corporation and brother of Vishal is reported to have spent nearly Rs. 25 crore to make this bilingual film. “Salute” in Telugu was released simultaneously in Andhra Pradesh.
Sathyam (Vishal) joins the Police force inspired by an upright police officer (Upendra) and does his duty as a cop to get wrong-doers punished. At one stage the Chief Minister who is taken ill is admitted to hospital. With a view to usurping the CM’s Chair, Home Minister Kondaladasa (Kota Srinivasarao) and three other Ministers move the pieces. At the instance of Kondaladasa, the three Ministers are bumped off. Kondaladasa however is shocked to learn that they were killed not by his hack man but by somebody else. He orders ACP Sathyam to investigate and bring to book the man who killed the ministers. After hard work he apprehends the real killer. Sathyam is taken back. For, the murderer is none other than former police officer Upendra, who tells him that he turned a killer because he failed to set things right in police uniform. In the meantime, one of Kondaladasa’s henchmen is found mixing a drug in the ice-cream for children and he is caught by Sathyam. However, the man goes scot-free because of the loopholes in the law. Kondaladasa turns his ire against Sathyam. A murder case is foisted on him and he is imprisoned. How he escapes from the jail and gets at the villains is the rest of the story.
Six-inch tall Vishal with his six-pack abs is introduced as a hulk taking on the rowdies. The scenes in which he uses his skill of investigation to track down the culprits involved in the blowing up of a car with a rocket launcher are awe inspiring. He excels in the episode of a woman minister being shot dead under the very nose of police when expectations are running high that the hero would not let it happen. It is really interesting to watch how the hero locates the house of the mystery man who kills the ministers. Upendra strangling a Minister who is seen to board a flight but switches to a deluxe bus is a thrill. The story takes a turn when the bus goes up in flames and Vishal who is nearby escapes unhurt, chases fleeing Upendra and catches him. Vishal’s expression of shock and disbelief on seeing the face of Upendra is well brought out.
On the flip-side, Vishal is not able to impart the needed sentiment to the episode in which his beloved mother is killed and he rushes to light her funeral pyre.
The climax, though interesting, loses punch with Vishal delivering long drawn-out dialogues. Nayanthara as Deivanayaki plays a TV reporter who helps Vishal in his investigation work. Her role is more of glamour than acting. Steamy scenes featuring Nayanthara and Vishal, particularly their sensuous duet “Chellame, Chellame…” are talk of the town. Nayan also does comedy on the lines of “Home Alone”.
Kota Srinivasa Rao plays the villain- a happy-go- bumpy guy. He did the same role in Vikram’s “Samy”.
The arrival of Kannada actor Upendra as the assassin (not hired) provides an unexpected twist. Senthil and Brahmanandam exert themselves too much to evoke laughter. There are spectacular car chases and a fighting scene in an ice factory. VFX supervisor Graig Mumma’s hand is visible in the car chases.
R.D.Rajasekhar’s camera makes action scenes lively. This film is a new feather in his cap. Harris Jayaraj’s music is good but it has no soul. ‘Pal Pappali” is the only number which resonates.
While Director Rajasekhar has employed all tools in his kit to project Vishal as an action hero in various dimensions, he has failed to pay serious attention to the screenplay. This mars the otherwise taut subject. Despite Vishal’s hard work, it is not the ‘ultimate cop story’ as it claimed to be. While trying to tell what has not been told before about the encounters, Rajasekhar ultimately ends up dishing out a usual cop story heavily loaded with action sequences.