Srikanth Movie Review: Sunshine In Darkness

“Srikanth” is a biopic chronicling the journey of Srikanth Bolla, an Indian entrepreneur who, despite being visually impaired, established Bollant Industries. Directed by Tushar Hiranandani, the film features Rajkummar Rao in the titular role, alongside Jyothika, Alaya F, and Sharad Kelkar.

General Rating

In a nut-shell:

Sunshine In Darkness

Srikanth Movie Star Cast/ Actors: Rajkummar Rao as Srikanth Bolla, Jyothika as Devika Malvade Srikanth’s mentor, Alaya F as Veera Swathi, Sharad Kelkar as Ravi Mantha, Jameel Khan as A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Srikanth Movie Director: Tushar Hiranandani

Srikanth Movie Release Date: May 10, 2024

Srikanth Movie Available On: Theatrical Release and (likely to be released on Netflix)

Srikanth Movie Released/ Available In Languages: Hindi

Srikanth Movie Runtime: 120 Minutes

Srikanth Movie Critic Review:

There are several reasons that make director Tushar Hiranandani’s work stand out. Right on top is the way the real-life story of Srikant Bolla cajoles you to look at the visually impaired with a new pair of eyes.

Tushar keeps taking you to a heartrending point but just before the moist eyes threaten to spill over, he brings in a ray of sunshine. He sets the tone the day Srikant was born way back in the early 1990s in a village in Andhra Pradesh. Father Damodar (Srinivas Beesetty) breaks into a celebration by getting himself a bottle, no, not the normal but a big one, and dancing with joy while those who’ve seen the baby, wonder how to break it to him. “I’ll call him Srikanth, after the great cricketer. My son will grow up to play cricket for India,” he dances, even responds to a gesture to check the baby and happily gestures back that all’s well after peeping at him between the legs. The dance of joy ends abruptly when Damodar realises that his baby boy is blind.

The mix of despair and joy continues. Damodar buries the wailing infant, certain that only bleakness awaits such a baby. It’s heartrending again until Srikanth is rescued by his mother (Anusha Nuthula) who doesn’t want to let go of her baby. Joy dispels despair, the twin emotions constant.

With the QSQT gem, ‘Papa kehte hain’ playing in the background as the opening credits roll, writers Jagdeep Sidhu and Sumit Purohit partner Tushar as Srikanth is shown developing his own set of survival skills. Never mind the beating he gets from the school bully. He knows he can’t run away like other boys do, he has to stay and fight. Stay and fight is the mantra, always kilometres ahead of everybody else in his academic brilliance. Stay and fight the Indian education system too that won’t allow Srikanth who has scored 96 per cent in his 10th to join the Science stream. Again, brilliant logic winning the court battle for him and setting a precedent for other visually impaired students to opt for science if they wish to.

By the time Srikanth is ready for university, you’ve already understood what the brainy boy is all about. Aided splendidly by teacher Devika (Jyotika) who gives him his first support stick to find his way around and takes him under her care, Srikanth’s sunniness which refuses to accept that his is a dark, doomed world, surfaces again and again.

Impressed with the student who aspires to be India’s first visually impaired President, a special interest taken by President Abdul Kalam (Jameel Khan) runs parallel. There are many sequences that cheer the buoyant boy as he enjoys friendship and the movies, the game of chess which he aces, and his logical clarity. The Newton scene in court, his arguments that win him the case, the use of hearing to play a fine game of cricket and win the India jersey, the airport scene where he finally gets on the flight the airline won’t allow him to board, build the admirable man who just can’t be kept down.

America, more progressive than India in the friendly environment it has for the challenged, is a natural fit for Srikanth who blossoms at MIT, Boston. At every stage, life provides the right counsel when Sri takes a misstep. It’s fangirl Swati (Alaya F), the medical student from Hyderabad, in the US for her MD, who guides him to return to India and inspire others.

Teacher Devika, President Kalam, girlfriend Swati and investor Ravi (Sharad Kelkar), the latter remarking that MIT had once turned even him down, make the mini army that stands by him, pulling him out of going wayward with pomposity at one point.

Ultimately, when Srikanth the successful entrepreneur stands on stage and tells the
audience at awards function how the visually impaired may have blindness but are not lacking in vision, his life is the best example of it. You want to applaud him for insisting on equality with the rest of the world and can’t help but wish that maybe one day, Srikanth Bolla will become India’s first visually impaired President.

However, Tushar’s narration is not crease-free. The repetition of certain thoughts (don’t pity us, we have vision; I may be blind, but I can see…dreams; Kalam’s repeated admiration for him) makes it drag in places. The musical score too, could have come up with a melodious song or two. But the strains of ‘Papa Kehte Hain’ that occasionally crop up are pleasant.

Another wrong note that’s struck is when Srikanth falls prey to illusions of invincibility about himself and turns insufferable. While showing him with human frailties was important, some shots are out of sync with the otherwise likeable narrative flow. To name just one, why the saffron lady politician would drag him out of the car and pull him insensitively to her office just to establish how politicians should be avoided, rings false.

But it’s a story that uplifts the spirit and compels you to examine how you look at the visually impaired. And the performances are elevating. Rajkummar Rao is so believably impaired that it’s hard to imagine it’s an act. Although he doesn’t quite pass off as a convincing schoolboy.

Jyotika, Sharad Kelkar, Alaya F (in a rather abrupt role), Jameel Khan and father Damodar played by Srinivas, bring the warmth of freshly baked bread to the film.

Srikanth Movie Watch it or not: Go and cheer both the real-life Srikanth Bolla and the team that tells his valiant story with insight and delight.

Srikanth Movie Review Score Rating:  3.5 out of 5 (i.e. 3.5/5)

Srikanth Movie Official Trailer:

Srikanth Movie Official Trailer (Credits: T-Series)

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Sunshine In DarknessSrikanth Movie Review: Sunshine In Darkness