He’s fresh from the success of Ranam
, it’s Diwali-time with not a single big Telugu release to compete with, and Gopichand does the most logical thing – join the rest of the nation in making audiences rush to Don
It’s hard to point out exactly what is specifically wrong with Raraju – everything is wrong with it. It has so many clichés, we had to invent new numbers to count them. It tries to have lots of action, a comedy track, a love triangle, a flashback, a hero who is a self-sacrificing saint, and plenty of sex. It manages 5 out of the 6 – there are some things even Ankita won’t do on screen. What it does not manage, is to keep you awake.
Kali (Gopichand) is a small-time marriage supplier, who is known for his muscle-power in his working-class neighbourhood. In here moves Jyothi (Meera Jasmine), a docile and rather meek IAS aspirant, staying alone and studying. Kali slowly falls in love with her, and mistakes her polite accommodation of his company for reciprocation.
A pre-interval slap brings him to the ground with a thud that only a pre-interval slap can manage, and post-interval, you have to battle the inevitable – the omniscient flashback. So Jyothi was in love with Surya (Sivaji), who basically died (yes, flashbacks should be short). And Jyothi can’t get over him, and wants to attain his dream by becoming an IAS officer.
Kali tries to help her in her studies, but she just wants him to leave her alone. When he saves her from the clutches of an evil inspector (Ashish Vidyarthi), however, she turns grateful to him. Needless to say, she tops the civil services entrance, and Kali is all set to marry her when she is convinced by elders to do it.
Raraju’s bane is its unrelenting zeal to be a formula film. It can’t, unfortunately, even pick a genre to be a formula film in. The benefit of retrospect tells you that it tried to be a romance, but for the most part as it grates on, you are not sure what it is trying to set itself up as.
Then, the screenplay is too loose. For example, Sivaji and Meera get on a train to take the Civil Services (IAS) entrance the next day, and buy a book – the General Studies manual, no less – that they want to read overnight. Any self-respecting IAS aspirant would kill himself.
More – a whole thread involving an MLA’s fracas with Kali has nothing to do with the actual tale, and is just an accessory to the script, primarily to add some formula fights to the film. Then, Ankita is a girl in love with Kali, but her role primarily involves taking off as many clothes as legally permissible on screen for the dances – she’s the formula 2nd heroine brought in to hike up the glamor quotient rather than explore unrequited love. She is coolly brushed under the carpet in a 30-second scene in the end, where she conveniently says she can always find someone else.
The film veers towards being a tale of selfless love in the last hour, but there is too little focus on that, and it ends up merely lapping at the feet of even failures in that genre like Maha
. This part is unbelievably trite, and betrays a scandalously low opinion of the audiences. And the unorthodox ending seems like a desperate attempt to show some thoughtfulness.
Gopichand cannot deliver what this role demands – and the poor characterization of Kali only serves to emphasize his histrionic weaknesses. The dialogues in the end far outweigh the tenor or expressions he can bring to them. Meera doesn’t have much to do. Ankita has the same problem, but she counters that by wearing very few clothes. The music by Manisharma shows what happens if you compose 5 songs every month.
If language is not a barrier, there are other releases that are at least classier. If language is, the there sure are better films showing on TV this whole weekend.