Raja The Great Review
'Raja The Great', starring Ravi Teja, Mehreen, and Vivan Bhatena in key roles, hits the screens this Diwali. Here is our review.
Lucky (Mehreen) is the kind-hearted daughter of a doting cop-dad (played by Prakash Raj). When a dreaded gang leader's (played by Vivan Bhatena) brother is killed by Prakash Raj in a police operation, the gangster seeks to avenge the death by eliminating the cop and his daughter. While the dad gets brutally killed, the daughter escapes. However, death continues to loom on the horizon for Lucky, who is now orphaned.
Raja (Ravi Teja), a blind and gutsy youngster, is egged by his mother (Radhika) to take it upon himself to protect Lucky against all odds. As someone who benefited from Prakash Raj's charity as a child, it's payback time for Raja.
The rest of the film is about how this one blind man becomes a one-man army in saving the damsel in distress, first by giving her the strength to face the world!
By now, it's clear that Anil Ravipudi, a huge Jandhyala fan, can be trusted to enlist as many comedians as possible film after film. In this one, you have everyone from seniors like Rajendra Prasad to even TV stars like Bitthiri Satthi and Chammak Chandra, whether in bit roles or otherwise. Srinivas Reddy, Tanikella Bharani (as the villain's bumbling father), Prudhvi, Posani Krishna Murali, Annapurnamma, Vidyullekha Raman, and a few others (like Viva Harsha, Raghu Karamanchi, Ali) come in between!
However, despite the welcome presence of some of the best fun names out there, it's Ravi Teja's comic timing which is over-indulged. Now, Mass Maharaja can give even the likes of Venkatesh a run for money with his impeccable comic timing. But in this film, he somehow comes across as having lost his Midas Touch. Maybe, it's because of the pulls and pressures of the unconventional character (of a blind man) that he is playing. Maybe, and this is sad if true, it's because he is starting to have a visage that is incompatible for comedy (a la Rajendra Prasad!).
Anil Ravipudi writes a script that can be called a love child of 'Bhadra' and 'Supreme'. If Mehreen's Lucky comes with the tribulations of Meera Jasmine's Anu, the idiom of this film presents a range of quirky characters (with a parallel in 'Supreme') complete with an oddball bank robbery scene.
At the cost of sounding sensationalist, the first 12-15 minutes or so of the film is a huge gamble. It's a gamble because Lucky's backstory is narrated in a hurried manner without leaving anything to be revealed at either one go or in installments later. It is inapt because the way the villain is presented in these portions (as a '90s era grouch surrounded by mediocre buffoons). After this, it's difficult to really take the macabre side of the film too seriously. Just see how those important murders are picturized. You can be forgiven for thinking that they are not the heroine's but her neighbors' scenes.
The first half is also spent in establishing Raja as a sharp-witted blind man instilling hope (in a not-so-novel manner) in Lucky. Rajendra Prasad as a funny wimp exists only as an excuse for a robbery scene that seems to take place in a fairyland. In fact, the whole ambience in Darjeeling is somehow unsettling.
It's in the second half that the actual hero vs villain confrontation (complete with the anti-hero being perplexed by Raja's confidence, and the proud mother delivering a few punch lines in the climax) is consolidated.
When he is not reducing a whole contingent of baddies (armed or absurd) to irrelevance, Raja teaches a lesson to Lucky's lowly Babais (played by Posani, Prabhas Sreenu, Sathyam Rajesh and Supreet) in a couple of comedy scenes. That's your 'Gunnamamidi' time - Ravi Teja dances with four the now-liberated housewives (no spoilers for now!).
Ravi Teja convinces with his authentic blind man's body language. At times, his utter ease in catching a fast-chugging train is too unreal. Mehreen is rather stiff. Enough said. Vivan Bhatena doesn't have the gravitas of even a Kabir Duhan Singh. One feels Radhika's talent should be exploited by other filmmakers, too. Prakash Raj is short-lived but good. All comedians do a fine job where they get the right material.
Sai Kartheek's BGM is indeed impressive. His songs pass muster. The cinematography scores good marks with exceptions.
If you can ignore the cliched story and the even more conventional villain, 'Raja The Great' may work for you. For all the claims to be logical in every way, the blind male lead is still unrealistically heroic. Live with that and enjoy some comedy scenes.