REVIEW: “Amigos” (2023)

Doppelgänger [noun] – an apparition or double of a living person. That’s a fitting and essential definition to keep in mind as you watch “Amigos”, the new Teluga-language thriller written and directed by Rajendra Reddy. It’s a slow-starting two-sided movie that takes some time to gain its footing. But once it does, Reddy and his hard-working star Nandamuri Kalyan Ram put together a tensely entertaining second half that ultimately ends up saving the day.

While the very core of its premise is undeniably silly, that doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had. Reddy goes all-in with his doppelgänger idea which (to be fair) is the only way to tell a story like this. There are a lot of things that don’t make sense, and there are just as many questions it’s best not to ask. But as the story uncoils and the reveals stack up, those things become easier to look past.

Ram plays Siddharth, a regular Joe who lives with his tight-knit family in Hyderabad. He’s smitten with a local DJ named Ishika (played by Ashika Ranganath). The problem is she’ll only marry a man who can pass her very specific (and seemingly impossible) test. Reddy devotes much of the first half of his movie to Siddharth’s playful (and sometimes downright silly) pursuit of the girl of his dreams.

Siddharth gets wind of a popular new social website ( of course) that connects people with their doppelgängers from around the world. Siddharth is immediately matched with Manjunath, a meek and kind-hearted computer programmer from Bengaluru. Just as the two are planning to meet, the website finds another match – the quieter, more stoic Michael from Kolkata. The three have a meet-up in Goa and hit it off. Soon Manjunath and Michael are helping Siddharth win the heart of Ishika.

The story’s big twist kicks off a second half that gives the proceedings a welcomed burst of energy. Without spoiling too much, let’s just say Michael isn’t quite who he claims to be. His real name is Bipin Roy and he’s a notorious gun runner and arms dealer who’s wanted by the NIA (National Investigation Agency). And he didn’t come to Hyderabad just to meet his two lookalikes. His motivations are much more sinister, and Reddy reveals them while steadily ratcheting up the tension.

The shift from the light and playful first half of the movie to the grittier and more violent second isn’t seamless, and it takes some adjusting. And not just in terms of tone, but also with the characters (most notably Michael). But Reddy does a good job building up to his big finish, to the point that we don’t have a lot of time to think about the sometimes corny first half antics. The bursts of stylish yet fittingly brutal action help too, although some of the style choices (like the occasional dizzying frame rate stutter or the vehicles zipping around at 1.5X speed) can be more distracting than exciting.

As for Ram and his wild three-headed performance, he certainly seems to be having a good time playing the everyday guy Siddharth, the nerdy bespectacled Manjunath, and the moodier Michael. Of the three, he really sinks his teeth into Michael who is by far the most fun and interesting. “An Indian Pablo Escobar,” he’s called and the film is at its best when we’re watching him live up to that title. It helps us to get past some of the shakier moments. “Amigos” is now showing in select theaters.


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