Sooraj Pancholi had a dream debut in HERO , a film produced by Salman Khan. The film underperformed at the box office but the hype of the film was such that it opened at Rs. 6.85 crore, which was the highest then for a film featuring debutants. Sooraj then, shockingly, disappeared and four years later, he’s finally back with SATELLITE SHANKAR. So does SATELLITE SHANKAR emerge as a great entertainer and meet the expectations raised by the trailer? Or does it fail to entice? Let’s analyse.
SATELLITE SHANKAR is about the extraordinary journey of a soldier that brings a nation together. Shankar (Sooraj Pancholi) is a rifleman posted near the LOC in Jammu and Kashmir. He is very popular in his regiment because of his jovial nature. He carries with him an idol of Lord Shankar. He pretends that it’s a satellite that can help him connect to anyone in the world. With this little trick, he keeps the officers motivated, despite them not getting leaves. In a firing by the Pakistani forces, Shankar gets hurt. He’s admitted in the hospital and though the injury is not serious, he is asked to rest for eight days. Shankar requests his commanding officer, Cheema (Sanjay Gurbaxani) that he’ll like to go to his hometown, Pollachi, in Tamil Nadu to meet his mother and get her cataract treated. Cheema agrees on the condition that Shankar reaches the base 8 days later at 8 am. Shankar promises to be back on the stipulated day and time by giving a ‘Sainik shapath’. Shankar’s colleagues request him to hand over gifts and other items to his family members while he’s on his way to his hometown. Shankar then begins his three-day-long journey on the train from Jammu. As soon as he commences the trip, an old couple in his bogie are asked to leave as they have boarded the wrong station. While helping them find the right train at the next station, Kathua, Shankar ends up missing his own train. He along with Meera Bakshi (Palomi Ghosh), a vlogger, then take a taxi to Pathankot, where their respective trains was to halt. Again, Shankar is not able to make it on time in his train while helping Meera. However, the family member of an army colleague Subedar Jeetu Singh (Pradeep Singh) picks up Shankar’s luggage from his train when it halts at a station in Punjab. Shankar reaches Jeetu Singh’s residence in Bagha and uses his ‘satellite’ to spread happiness and solve their problem. Shankar then heads to Agra to finally catch his train to Pollachi. Yet again, Shankar gives it a miss as he gets busy in saving people who were in a bus that had met with an accident. Interestingly, even Meera is there in the bus and Shankar gets captured in her video. He overnight becomes a hero of the nation. Meera takes it upon herself to find Shankar and she sets off to find him. Her followers cross the million mark and they too get involved in this journey to ensure that Shankar not only reaches his hometown soon but also that he’s able to adhere to his ‘Sainik Shapath’ and report back to base 8 days later at 8 am. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
Irfan Kamal's direction is weak and a bit unpolished. He had a great subject in hand but first he messed it up at the screenplay stage. Then, with his execution, he spoilt it even more. The first 15-20 minutes seem very silly and one might wonder what exactly is happening in the film. The concept of the ‘satellite’ gets clear only after 30-35 minutes in the Punjab village scene. The film boasts of very filmy and convenient plot points and it needed an expert direction so that viewers can digest it. In the absence of it, it’ll be difficult for them to really get engaged with the film.
SATELLITE SHANKAR’s beginning portions might seem bizarre. The concept of the ‘satellite’ might not be easy to comprehend. Even the scene of Shankar getting injured in the cross-border firing is not well helmed, although the idea is interesting. The film gets a bit interesting as Shankar gets in the train and he ends up missing it. However, he misses his train three times and that becomes too much. What stands out in the first half is the scene in the Punjab village and the bus accident sequence. Post-interval, the film has some fine moments but again, the direction and script play spoilsport. Still, the film remains somewhat engaging. However, the climax is when the film really falls down. The stone pelting part looks completely forced and mars the rhythm and even tone of the film.
Sooraj Pancholi gives a very fine performance and he’s sure to amaze you with his sheer hard work. There’s this earnestness in the way he has played the part and it’s completely in sync with his character. Also, he is quite entertaining and watch out for the scene where he imitates Prime Minister Narendra Modi! Megha Akash (Pramila) is lovely and lends able support. Her scene at Salem railway station is memorable. But sadly, her track is not well handled and it lacks conviction. Palomi Ghosh has a brilliant screen presence and leaves a tremendous mark. Upendra Limaye (Inspector Chavan) is dependable. Pradeep Singh, Anurag Mishra (Anwar Hussain), Anil K Reji (Sridhar), Asif Basra (Taxi Driver), Subrat Dutta (TC) and Sanjay Gurbaxani are fine.
Music is nothing special. 'Pyaar Ka Satellite' is like a theme track and is the only song that works. 'Aari Aari' is foot tapping but comes at a time when viewers are dazed about the film’s concept. 'Tere Sang' is forgettable while 'Jai He' has a patriotic feel and hence stands out. Sandeep Shirodkar's background score is appropriate.
On the whole, SATELLITE SHANKAR is a well-intentioned flick but poor script and direction play spoilsport. At the box office, it’ll have a tough time because of lack of awareness.
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