Billa seemed to be in the news ever since Ajith featured in the Tamil remake of the super hit Rajnikanth starrer of the 1980s. And when Telugu's cinema's young Prabhas donned the role, there was excitement even though it was a total remake of Ajith's Billa.
The Telugu Billa is nothing more than a slick and stylish (at least the first half is) film with choppers, Ferraris vrooming, car chase, loads of weapons, oomph in the form of a 'robust' Namita and a svelte and lissome Anushka, and a good touristy view of Malaysia.
Mehar Ramesh has been able to impart that 'synthetic' cold look and with everybody in dark glasses that one can hardly see any of the actors' expressions. It is only in parts in the second half that one can feel the warmth of the film, particularly in the shots to do with the 'rustic' Billa. However, the second half tends to drag quite a bit.
The story of the film by now is known to most thanks to the various versions of Don and Billa. Here Billa (Prabhas) lives in Malaysia and answers to a Devil (whose identity is disclosed in the end). Lisa (Namita) plays his moll. Rashid (Kelly Dorje) strikes deals only with Billa. Actually Billa trusts no one and kills everyone as he mouths the Spanish goodbye several times. He finishes off his trusted lieutenant Vikram (Subbaraju) and his lover Priya (Hansika) but not before she does an item number. Maya (Anushka) enters Billa's domain. ACP Krishnamurthi (Krishnamraju) is after Billa and lands up in Malaysia to capture him. He does and Billa reappears...
There is nothing new in the original story written by Salim-Javed though Mehar Ramesh tried to give it the contemporary feeling. When Billa behaves as though he suffers from loss of memory, ACP Krishnamurthi asks, is this Ghajini? Though it sounds somewhat out of context, it induces some laughs.
Mehar Ramesh has concentrated on creating the typical 'cosmetic' look. But when the rural scenes are shot, the dichotomy is very evident. The first half has only Prabhas walking in slow motion, either smoking or shooting. After a point, it gets boring to watch the repetitive shots. Prabhas is made to have one trademark expression, Anushka too has the same stock expression. Mehar could have concentrated on tying up the unfinished threads in the film.
For Prabhas, such a role seems to have been a cakewalk. He just glides through it effortlessly. He really looks the uber cool dude with his eight-pack body. Anushka has a super-toned body and indulges in quite a bit of skin show. Rather both the girls do. Besides upping the glamour quotient (Anushka does it more) they have nothing much to do. Rehman (Tamil actor) does an important role and is fairly competent. Krishnamraju is just about okay.
Soundar Rajan's camera work is a major plus point of the movie besides the editing of course by Marthand K Venkatesh. Somehow Manisharma disappoints with his musical score.
On the whole, Billa is all about style and slickness without much substance. It's also an ode to cleavage which is rather unnecessary and unwanted. Watch Billa if you want to see some improvements on the technical front or if you at a loose end or if you're Prabhas fan.