'Lakshmi' strictly for Shivakumar's fans

Film: "Lakshmi"; Cast: Shivaraj Kumar, Priyamani, Ashish Vidyarthi, Rangayana Raghu,Saloni, Avinash, Gurudatt and Guru Prasad; Screenplay-Direction: Raghava Loki; Co-producers: B.R. Duggineni and Aadhi; Music composer: Guru Kiran; Camera: K.S.Chandrashekhar; Rating: ***

"Lakshmi" is Shivaraj Kumar's 102th film. Nearly two years went into its making. Despite the delay in production and release of "Lakshmi", it stands out as a better product than the actor's two previous films, which were backed by big hype, but ended up as total dampeners. Director Raghava Loki has been able to craft an interesting screenplay for "Lakshmi", where suspense and thrilling elements keep you on the edge of the seats. The project has rich production values and fantastic action and chase sequences shot in Macau and Hong Kong.

"Lakshmi" will surely be a treat for the actor's fans. Despite being tagged as an action-oriented film, the movie has some emotional sequences which touch your heart. The director offers a good package of action, sentiment and a little dose of patriotism in his film, which certainly stands for its strong visual strength.

The film's story is around a journey undertaken by CBI officer Lakshmi Narayan to trace his missing wife. Since he follows cases of mining mafia and internal cells supporting terrorist activities in the state, Lakshmi feels that his wife has been kidnapped by terrorists. His search takes him to Hong Kong, where a don is in control of all terrorist activities in the country.

Surprisingly, Lakshmi finds his Priya to be working as a trusted aide to the don. He decides to kill his wife and the don in the big operation centre, maintained by the don. Finally, the suspense is revealed that Priya is part of a counter terrorist wing of CBI and is being used to crush the terrorists' designs.

The film is not without its set of flaws. It starts off well but loses track later only to come back with renewed twists before the interval sequence. The beginning of second half, which has many sequences of Rangayana Raghu, fail to make an impact. There is no comedy element in these sequences, though they were designed to add the comedy ingredient to the film. The second half has many dragging sequences, but somehow the plot gets interesting overtones twenty minutes before the climax.

The climax sequence is well shot with absorbing visuals. It is only in the climax that the film gets a big twist, when the suspense is revealed. Loki could do well by snipping ten to fifteen minutes of the film in the second half.

Shivaraj Kumar has delivered an all-round performance in the film and excels in dances and fights. His punchy dialogues are sure to please his fanbase. He shows lot of energy in carrying his role convincingly. Priyamani has also given a top class performance in the film. Ashish Vidyarthi who plays the role of a don is quite effective in his role.

All other major artists who have worked in the film appear in one or two sequences of the film but have performed the roles with ease.

K.S. Chandrashekhar's camera work is fantastic, and the Hong Kong sequences are shot with rich frames. Ravi Varma's work in the action department is also commendable. Guru Kiran provides good background score, but his compositions could have been better. The work of art department is very good.

"Lakshmi" is tailor-made for Shivakumar fans, but still it has many engaging elements to keep family audience happy.

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