Firstly, Ride is not a mean, fast-paced action film riddled with bike chases and wheelies and stoppies and sultry women in leather hot pants. You wouldn't know this piece of trivia until you came to the end of the movie. For a film whose title screams 'thrill', Ride is more 'aww' than 'ooh'. That's one of the things that will happens when you make a movie about two college kids sulking over a TVS bike.
Mahesh (Tanish) is a college drop-out who has to earn to keep his family going, and his new-found job needs him to have a bike. In another world, Arjun (Nani) is a guy who'd kill to wrap himself around a bike - more because it means that girls will then wrap themselves around him, than any real geeky fervour for the machine. The problem is his skinflint of a father (Ahuti Prasad) who believes that a college-going kid can get by on Rs. 200 a month.
Mahesh is the first to lay his hands on a 2-wheeler, and is doing fine until his bike gets stolen. He finds it is being driven around by this character he's never seen, who turns out to be Arjun. The two bump each other around for a while, and after a bit of mud-slinging and blood-capillary-bursting, agree to share the bike, since each has his own compelling needs to drive it.
Before you know it, Mahesh and Arjun become thick friends, sing a nestam
duet together and wear the same coloured shirts, and their babes (Shweta Basu & Aksha, respectively) are done being wooed. Technically, the story's done by now. The Tinkle-style narration still might have been forgiven, if the plot didn't aimlessly run into cliche-land, including a villain and an unimaginative climax involving a completely tame bike race.
Ride spends way too much time building up a premise, and incidentally, that's the interesting part. Then, by the time we get to any actual issue, the story fizzles out. The first half has some detailed characterization, a lot of comedy (including insider jokes on the lead actors' debut films), and the promise of some intelligent action further ahead.
The first half has its flaws, though. The romances are virtually non-existent. The fight sequences between the two are not set up properly, so the whole settling of scores bit seems as flimsy as a pair of third-graders coming to blows over a pencil box. Of course, the question 'why couldn't they have talked it out in the first place?' is very, very impolite at this point. Also, there are a couple of those grinding 'nenu cheppedi koncham vinipinchukovandi
' moments that we thought died when free speech was invented.
Nani, Tanish, Shweta Basu and Aksha are all from among last year's favourite hits (Ashta Chemma
, Kotha Bangaru Lokam
, respectively), and while Aksha was just scenery in her film, the other three have been noticed specifically for their acting talent. In particular, Nani is easily the most proficient of the whole set - his comic timing borders on genius.
Basu is cute, but is there just for some songs, and is a misfit in her role, and is unfairly given just 5% of what she's capable of. Not that she's not tried looking like a bombshell; it's just that she and her guy look like they need to go attend their school annual day function first - both she and Tanish look miles away from adulthood. Aksha is vivacious, and does well what she was hired for.
Dharmavarapu has a hilarious comedy track, and Brahmanandam has one or two jokes. The rest of the elder cast, including Ahuti Prasad, Sudha and Tulasi, are their usual selves.
The makers seem to have had an awesome sense of colour - it's mostly a teen drama, and the look and feel of the film seem refreshing. Between Mahesh's broke family and Arjun's relatively well-off home, the visuals are sensible, and yet rich.
Ride has some of the most creatively choreographed songs in recent times - both the settings and the choreography are a treat to watch. You shouldn't miss the danchu danchu
remix - it's quite funny. The music, however, is heavy on electronics, and will be remembered only if the film works.
Ride is a decent option only if you've planned something interesting for the second half. Like watching another movie.