Moving onto the next release of the weekend and before I get to the magnum opus Ponniyin Selvan 1, I decided to finish off a Telugu film Saakini Daakini which has premiered on Netflix. Now I had no expectations from this film and I knew very little about it in the first place. On quickly reading about it, I got to know that Saakini Daakini is the official Telugu Adaptation of the South Korean film Midnight Runners. So it is not just Bollywood but Tollywood also who is guilty of remaking films, quite contrary to the perception doing the rounds. Now I do not have any reference to the original Korean film as I haven’t watched the film. This in a way was a good enough incentive to venture into Saakini Daakini. So then does Saakini Daakini manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
An official Telugu adaptation of the original Korean film Midnight Runners, Saakini Daakini follows the story of two police interns, initially at loggerheads with each other soon turned into buddies, who one day witness a kidnapping. What happens next? The story did seem like a nice little concept featuring buddy cops similar to what we have seen in films like 21 Jump Street and the Dhoom franchise. So it is a formula that has previously been successful. The screenplay here though is a tale of two halves. Standing at a shade under 2 hours, the screenplay does move at a brisk pace but it still does seem half baked.
The drama opens in terrific fashion with the introduction of the two female protagonists against the backdrop of the police academy. The two individuals are completely opposite of each other in terms of their character traits which does make for an entertaining watch. Some of the best moments in the screenplay are in the first half which comprise of nicely executed comedic moments which are thoroughly enjoyable. The drama will briefly give you a sense of the academy track in the Hindi film Lakshya although the storylines are quite different. The twist at the halfway mark will make you stand up and take notice. But it just spirals downwards from that point.
The curse of the second half sets in much like in the Tamil film Cobra. The issue lies in the tonal shift from comedy to a thriller which just doesn’t sit right. The sequences just do not exude of any excitement in what seemed like a very confused approach despite a valid social issue at hand. The conflict for the writer may have been whether to maintain the comedy right throughout or shift to a thriller. It ends up being neither as the drama begins to drift resulting in an extended period of distraction on my part. The final act is also quite cliched, abrupt and not layered at all making the film a lost opportunity. In other words, the writing is patchy here which was a bit of a shame.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are decently well penned although nothing much to shout about. The music and BGM are adequate as is the cinematography. Director Sudheer Verma does a decent job overall, good in the first hour but loose in the second hour. I wish a more sorted approach was taken as the story did have potential to resonate with the viewers.
The performances are pretty good here. Kabir Singh Duhan as Raka does a good job although his character is way underwritten for the role of an antogonist. Nivetha Thomas as Shalini is an absolute firecracker and does a brilliant job. She has Regina Cassandra for company who looks pretty as Daamini and delivers an impactful performance. The duo have crackling chemistry between them which makes the drama consistently watchable.
Saakini Daakini is a half baked cop drama which suffers from some confused writing in the second hour. Available on Netflix.