24 Frames' DURGA, directed by Chekravarthy, tells the story of a young couple who are made scapegoats in a fierce gang war prevailing between two underworld dons.
Chekravarthy is a college student who falls in love with a girl from the same college. The girl's father is the manager of a popular theatre, which is a favourite haunt of unruly members of an underworld gang, which is in constant tension with another gang dominating in the same area.
When Chekravarthy proposes marriage to the girl, her father poses a stiff opposition and decides to get her engaged to another boy. But Chekravarthy ensures that the engagement does not go ahead.
The gang members hanging out at the theatre, who have a soft corner for the manager, learn of this and offer to beat up the man who is coming in the way of the daughter's engagement. Chekravarthy is beaten badly and it comes to light that he is the son of the same gang-lord with whom the gang is in eternal conflict.
The incident takes the shape of a serious gang war and the young couple gets involved for no reason.
The story of the film begins in the college campus and the first half is confined to establishing the relationship between the boy and the girl, hardly giving an indication that the plot would deviate towards gang rivalry. It is only at the interval point that the story takes off.
While the story shifts tracks to the gang war, the narrative is interspersed with songs, a few of them in flashback. However, some of the songs are totally out of place and only tend to interrupt the story and slow down its momentum.
Moreover, there is an overdose of blood, gore, violence and crude scenes in the film. Among the repulsive scenes are the ones in which dead bodies are shown lying around, a man's tongue is slashed with a knife and thrown out and a hand is put in a sugarcane juice extracting machine.
Despite the fact that the songs have been picturised on foreign locations, they hardly appear to be picturesque. The dull musical score makes them even less palatable.
If the film stands out in any department, it is Chekravarthy's performance. He excels in the brilliantly executed action sequences (in the scene when the goons try to beat him in the college canteen and towards the climax, when he single-handedly takes on all the members of the rival gang). He succeeds as an actor, but does not make an impact as a director.
Priyanka, as his girl-friend, emotes well and shows promise. Anjan Srivastava, as the girl's father, is convincing. Sayaji Shinde impresses in the role of the rival underworld don.
On the whole, DURGA is too heavy a film to leave a mark at the box-office. Its business in Mumbai will be the best, but an overdose of violence will limit its prospects.