Harom Hara review: Sudheer Babu’s action drama is all style and little substance

Aravind Viswanathan's excellent cinematography and Chaitan Bharadwaj's fabulous, zesty music score salvage the film to a certain level.

BySrivathsan Nadadhur

Published:Jun 21, 2024

Gnanasagar Dwaraka's directorial Harom Hara

Harom Hara (Telugu)

14-06-2024, Action/Drama, 2 hours 34 minutes A
Theatre
  • Main Cast:Sudheer Babu, Malvika Sharma, Jayaprakash, and Sunil
  • Director:Gnanasagar Dwaraka
  • Producer:Sumanth G Naidu
  • Music Director:Chaitan Bharadwaj
  • Cinematography: Aravind Viswanathan

Rating

2.5/5

Ambition is always a good thing in cinema and Harom Hara has it aplenty.

Director Gnanasagar Dwaraka, who earlier helmed the urban romance Sehari (2022), changes gears with a rooted action drama that casts Sudheer Babu as an anti-hero from Kuppam, a gunsmith sucked into a world of crime.

Mounted on a lavish scale, it’s a visual feast not often matched by screen-writing brilliance.

Predictable screenplay

Harom Hara is effective in its world-building, to begin with. Subrahmanyam is introduced as a small-time mechanical lab assistant at a polytechnic college, who loses his job after a scuffle with a local goon’s men.

If that wasn’t enough, his father’s mounting debts tighten his purse strings. There’s a good motive for the protagonist to chase quick money and he’s supported by a suspended cop Palani.

The gun is the golden goose through which Subrahmanyam seeks to earn money and dignity in his village though it doesn’t take long for the bullet to be directed back at him.

He runs the “show” at an abandoned theatre that once played Krishna’s Agni Parvatham (1985). When his customers have a problem with identifying guns, he names them after NTR, ANR, Krishna, Chiranjeevi, and Jyothi Lakshmi.

As you would typically expect in the story of an outlaw, the protagonist’s growth earns the wrath of his local enemies; there are internal squabbles.

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Cinematography & music salvage the film

Sudheer Babu in Harom Hara

Sudheer Babu in ‘Harom Hara’. (X)

The film holds your interest as long it sticks to the gradual rise of the underdog. While Subrahmanyam rises in stature and transforms into a local Robinhood, Harom Hara ceases to be interesting barring momentary highs.

If you couldn’t guess it by now (which is highly unlikely), Harom Hara is heavily inspired by Allu Arjun’s Pushpa (2021), especially with the story’s treatment. Both are period films set in Rayalaseema where the protagonist’s family is cornered, triggering their necessity for money and respect within society and how circumstances transform the men into hard-core criminals.

Harom Hara‘s second hour is all about the rise and rise of Subrahmanyam as an alternative system in the village, loaded with elevation sequences.

Gnanasagar Dwaraka glorifies the hero’s cause at every opportunity at the cost of emotional connect. Despite landing in tricky situations, Subrahmanyam rarely has a solid opponent (he kills 1,000 men at least).

That the protagonist himself is a gunsmith gives an excuse for the makers to indulge in the fancy armoury (which is fun to watch).

There’s still excessive reliance on slow-motion shots in action sequences and cliched storytelling tropes. Surprisingly, Aravind Viswanathan’s excellent cinematography and Chaitan Bharadwaj’s fabulous, zesty music score salvage the film to a certain level.

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Hazy & unimaginative

Another slightly jarring side to Harom Hara is its divinity angle. The peacock (the vehicle of Lord Subrahmanya, whom the protagonist is named after) is repeatedly portrayed as a companion who guards Subrahmanyam whenever he and his beloved are in trouble.

Subramanyam is a glorified criminal but is projected as a God-sent messiah.

Subrahmanyam’s lady love Devi (Malvika Sharma) is introduced as this feisty schoolteacher who sees no wrong in her man’s path to survival. She even says you need to be twisted to survive and make a name in the world.

However, the character remains underutilised and she doesn’t substantially contribute to the story at any point.

The father and the wife remain the only vulnerabilities in Subrahmanyam’s life.

As you expect in every second bloated Telugu film, most of the characters beyond Subrahmanyam and his friend Palani are not fleshed out with care.

Gnanasagar Dwaraka understands the mind of an action junkie well, but what disappoints you is the hazy writing and the belief that the technical finesse could mask its weaknesses.

After multiple innovative action blocks in the second hour, you expect Harom Hara to peak at the climax (like you would in a conventional action film), which unfortunately doesn’t happen either.

It isn’t only unimaginative but also overstretches and ends up testing your patience. Harom Hara needs more meat to justify its 153-minute runtime.

From another tangent, it’s baffling how Telugu cinema prefers to stay apolitical while approaching mass films.

In Harom Hara, there’s no attempt to understand how the socio-political scenario has a say in the life of a protagonist. All you get to witness is a few glimpses where goons wield influence over high-profile officers and use them as puppets.

The absence of a larger understanding of the gun culture also limits the depth of the story.

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Performances

A still from the film Harom Hara

A still from the film ‘Harom Hara’. (X)

Harom Hara wants to be the film that propels Sudheer Babu towards stardom. He also earns a new moniker “Nava Thalapathy”.

He handles even the most intense sequences with an infectious composure and poise, but the absence of a strong emotional link dents the impact of his character.

He does alright with the Kuppam slang, although you can make out he’s an outsider trying hard.

Malvika Sharma has an impressive screen presence even in an underwrought role.

Sunil is the only actor apart from Sudheer Babu who’s provided adequate scope to prove his mettle and the Pushpa experience comes in handy for the seasoned performer.

Jayaprakash is strictly okay playing another father character.

There’s enough urgency in Akshara Gowda’s performance to invest in her righteous cop role.

Ravi Kale, Arjun Gowda, and Lakki Lakshman are the stereotypical baddies sans a strong identity who don’t get to make much impact.

Final take

If you need a reason to catch Harom Hara in the theatres, it has to be for the enjoyable first half and how the cinematography, and music complement each other to create the right ambience for the story.

While it suffers from the second-half syndrome, the film remains tolerable. The main disappointment, however, is its inability to fulfill its true potential.

(Views expressed here are personal.)

(Edited by S Subhakeerthana)

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