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Raraju: Just a little different
Radhika Rajamani | October 23, 2006 16:55 IST
Treading the mainstream path is possibly the safest, most economically viable option when it comes to films. Formulaic films -- the usual entertainers packaged with action, romance and sentiment -- are, therefore, the safest bet. And each filmmaker offers slight variations within this large format. Raraju is loaded with fairly large doses of action, sentiment and song � the usual clich�s -- but is slightly different.
The characterisation, particularly of the lead heroine, is fairly substantial. In the hero-dominated Telugu industry, where girls are often taken simply in bring in glamour, sketching out a substantial role for a heroine is quite welcome. The film also has an open-ended climax, which is uncommon.
Kali (Gopichand), the protagonist, is a kind of 'dada' with a humane element to him. He supplies microphones at functions, and people shudder at the mere mention of his name. He can be ruthless, but he has a gentle heart when it comes to helping people.
Ankita plays a police inspector who is in love with him. Kali does not reciprocate. His meeting Jyoti (Meera Jasmine) is not the usual boy-meets-girl bit where sparks fly instantly. Then begin the minor twists and turns. A flashback reveals Jyoti's past, leading to Kali wanting to help her. Jyoti is studying for the Civil Services examination, and Kali falls in love with her. The outcome is easy to guess, but the climax leaves you thinking a bit about what happens.
The film is quite entertaining in the first half, filled as it is with comedy that is, thankfully, not too banal. Venumadhav and M S Narayana help make it smooth sailing. The first half has the masala -- most of the song and dance sequences between Gopichand and Ankita -- but the storyline isn't clear. The second half gets a bit emotional and takes a somewhat serious turn. It is then that the story begins to develop.
Gopichand gets an opportunity to further his image as an actor who can cater to the masses after Ranam. Here, he gets to showcase his action and emotional skills as the hero. He is convincing as Kali, effortlessly going through the orchestrated fight sequences (in slow motion too, with quite a bit of special effects) as well as the sentimental stuff.
For Meera Jasmine, this role is a cakewalk. Known for doing roles with substance and not the usual glam-doll ones, playing Jyothi is not difficult for the National Award-winning actor. Ankita's role is a mere appendage (making one wonder why she accepted it). It's hard to reconcile to the fact that she is a cop as well as a glamour girl. Either she is in her uniform or some itsy-bitsy attire.
Sivaji does what he is expected to do in his cameo. Ashish Vidyarthi looks menacing as a cop, but his role too looks as if it was inserted merely to provide a bit of negativity.
The film has quite a few stereotypical situations. At one level, things seem easy and simplistic. At times, attention is not paid to maintain a cohesive flow and scenes are inserted (like an irritating song and dance) to change the tempo. Perhaps director Udaiya Shankar could have taken note of these small things. However, the scene where Kali appears as Hanuman in front of Ashish Vidyarthi is, to some extent, unusual and allegorical.
On the whole, Raraju is quite a clean film to watch with the family, perhaps once. The director makes an effort to make an earnest film, but can't make it drastically different, hindered somewhat by commercial trappings.
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