Gandeevadhari Arjuna (2023)

Gandeevadhari Arjuna (2023)

A stylish Telugu bodyguard thriller with great action but strange pacing



Action, Drama, Thriller
Abhinav Gomatam, Kalpalatha, Manish Chaudhary
138 min

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It’s a bit too long and sometimes gets generic, but it’s still amazing that they’re able to make a sleek action film about climate change, inequality, and toxic waste disposal.

What it's about

After an unsuccessful attack on India’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, his chief bodyguard gets injured and unable to protect him further. With the upcoming UN summit, the injured bodyguard recommends ex-special forces officer Arjun Varma to take over his charge.

The take

Because the world exploits developing countries as dumping grounds for their waste, more attention should be focused on this issue. The immediate filmmaking response would be to document this reality, but Telugu thriller Gandeevadhari Arjuna takes this idea as the driving force of its story. It’s the reason why the bodyguard Arjun takes this job, as well as the reason why the Minister needs protection and why his family has unresolved drama. While the romance subplot distracts from this issue, Gandeevadhari Arjuna deftly interweaves this real-life problem into sleek action sequences, relatable family drama, and a personalized depiction of the problem’s consequences.

What stands out

It can be hard to make something like climate change seem interesting, but Gandeevadhari Arjuna’s treatment of the issue makes the stakes feel direct and personal. However, the film doesn’t trust that this is compelling enough to make the movie. The film has an added romance between bodyguard Arjun and secretary Ira, but the way this was incorporated was very clunky. Within the first 40 minutes, a third of this time was dedicated to their backstory, to explain that Arjun’s secret service missions led Ira to distrust him. While this effectively explains their dynamic, having this play out in 12 straight minutes makes it feel like it distracts from the larger story of protecting the Minister, and it’s not even compelling enough to work. Gandeevadhari Arjuna could have removed this backstory altogether to make a more streamlined plot.

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