It all starts beautifully with a nameless, ordinary citizen named Rambabu audaciously foiling the Opposition leader's bid to foment caste violence and questioning provocatively, 'When we have same schools/colleges for all castes, why have an SC hostel, a BC hostel and so forth?' Earlier, Tanikella Bharani asks Kota, 'Inni kulalu, matalu undabatti manam survive avtunnam kani, oke kulam, oke matam unte mana paristhiti enti?' The State is overawed by Rambabu's intelligence and guts. CGTR grips our attention and involves us in the drama in no time. When the audience naturally expects the film to deal with relevant issues, the film veers the routine trajectory of so-called political potboilers - elements like a power-hungry politician wanting to become Chief Minister and going to any extent in pursuit of his aim, the hero entering into a face-off with him.
Living an average citizen's life is the socially-conscious Rambabu, who reads a news items in the morning and goes out of his way to rectify the behaviour of irresponsible sons, etc. (He lives in an AP where no scams take place). He is catapulted to fame by Ganga (Tamanna), who records his achievements on her camera. His friends (among those is Babai MS Narayana) egg on him to take up the job of a journalist in Dharmavarapu's tv channel.
Rambabu likes the honesty of Surya, a gutsy journalist out to expose the nefarious designs of the Opposition leader Jawahar Naidu (Kota). Surya gets killed by Naidu's son, Ranababu (Prakash Raj). Rambabu takes it upon himself to send Ranababu to jail (a journo taking a political biggie to jail. Does it make any sense?) and in the process, invites the wrath of Naidu. The rest of the story is all about how Rambabu finishes politically and physically the father-son duo.
The problem with CGTR is that Puri visits the main story only now and then. A good amount of screen time is wasted in making Tamanna pining for Pawan. Since hers is a title role, it would have made sense to involve her more in the story. In fact, she has no role in Rambabu's fight as the film progresses.
The intensity is not maintained, even after earth-shattering events Rambabu is able to lead a normal life. After publicly slapping a two-time CM, is it possible for anyone to lead an anonymous life?
Puri thinks that politicians script movements in an inebriated condition just like writers pen scenes after having a peg of brandy. We see Prakash Raj giving a call to all the Telugus to shunt out Tamlians, Marathis, etc from AP by taking up the cause of Telugu Talli. But he fails to answer Rambabu's juvenile arguments after a hugely successful pada yatra. In real life, the chauvinist politicians know so well how to argue their case that an ignoramus like Puri, who doesn't read newspapers, will not be able to argue with them for a minute. Besides, the imagery of 'Telugu Talli' has a sentimental value for millions, so the lines spoken by Pawan in that scene are in bad taste. Has Puri or any of his colleagues seen 'Cine Kalama Talli'? (In any case, lampooning politicians for using symbols, which are not germane to their movements, wouldn't enlighten the public).
What make it all look superficial and ludicrous are the way Naidu and son Ranababu behave like either maniacs or fools. There comes a bombardment after Prakash Raj's arrest: Jawahar angrily goes to Rambabu's channel office and gets slapped. The two-time CM suffers a paralysis attack. Please take note that neither he nor his son has a single gun man guarding them.
Rambabu's intellection is lazy and half-baked. While posing questions to a woman politician Gundakka, he intersperses proverbs in his questions which have the effect of saying that women in modern societies are asserting themselves needlessly. Hypocritically, he later criticises the vernacular media for liberally using proverbs in their news presentations (read the Brahmi scene in second half). In another scene where he exhorts the people to rally behind him (the climax speech), he first talks as if people make political judgments without possessing adequate understanding and that discussing political events with family/friends serves no useful purpose, and in the same emotive speech, quite illogically, asks, 'Repu 25 MLAlu oka party nunchi inko party ki pothe mee tala ratalu maripotayi ani meeku telusa?' Is it the film's case that people are not capable of holding correct political opinions even while Rambabu urges on the hoi polloi to save the government from being unseated through horse-trading? Since Puri is uninformed, he might be thinking that defections are the only threat to the people's future in our democracy!
In the end, Puri cannot claim to enlighten the masses with an ignorant film of this kind because it is set in an imaginary Telugu land where virtues belong to the ruler, while vices and evil tendencies go to the opposition. If a self-declared message-oriented film ducks the real issues and deals with the issues it takes up in a slipshod manner, it can at best impress only the gullible.
All said, CGTR packs a few interesting punches. Some highlights worth mentioning: Ali's Melu Kolupu scenes and Pawan-Brahmi's news-reading scene; Pawan's effective dialogue delivery in the climax speech; Pawan's description of how women have been poetically elevated while they are all ordinary and same; Kota's vintage acting output.
Pawan comes with his usual verve and energy. The role seems tailor-made for him. While he delivers dialogues in a neat fashion, he sleepwalks through the dances. Definitely, he was terrific in Gabbar Singh, not here. Tamanna's character could have been better used. Even so, she is confident and gives out the right expressions. Prakash Raj is routine, he is not helped by a single memorable line. Ali, Brahmi, Dharmavarapu, Tanikella are good in their small roles. The lady as Gundakka is entertaining. Nasser is dignified, but he is not an important part. Gabriela and Scarlett Wilson have no future in Telugu cinema.
Mani Sharma's songs are sub par, while the BG score is ok. Shyam K Naidu's cinematography is fine. The fights, though short, are lackadaisical.
Given the gargantuan release and Damarukam's postponement, CGTR is poised to rule the roost. With first three days' openings likely to touch the sky, it is gala time for all die-hards.
Released on: 18th Oct, 2012