Marana Mrudangam is Chiranjeevi in his mass hero avatar – meting out justice, charming the ladies, fighting evil-doers and dancing up a storm. I never cease to be amazed by A Kodandarami Reddy’s imagination and Marana Mrudangam is full of crazy details, wild schemes, stunts and an array of dodgy looking props. Plus – Ranjeet!
Johny (Chiru) and Billu (Nagendra Babu, Chiranjeevi’s brother) run a small restaurant/bar.
One day Johny stops to help Utpala (Suhasini) and Anusha (Radha) when their car has broken down. Utpala is a nurse, and Radha is a high powered manager of a hotel that also seems to trade in import export.
Two girls, two guys – it’s a love triangle waiting to happen. Utpala falls for Johny who has fallen for Anusha while Billu seems to fancy Utpala a little.
I don’t mind rom-coms when Chiru is doing both rom and com, but I was hoping for a bit more masala inspired action. Imagine my delight when Billu cracked an egg to make an omelette and found it was full of COCAINE!
No I don’t know how Johny knew how to identify cocaine. But he also knew how to track the drug back to its origin and so the thrills and spills began!
Salim (Ranjeet) is a very bad man, and not just because he wears an excessive amount of very tight denim. He is a cold eyed killer and rapist and the enforcer in Vasantdada’s (Suresh Oberoi) gang.
He has no impulse control and his character could be summed up as ‘Rapey’. Ranjeet also has a thing for staking people out to die. It’s neither fast nor efficient but he does persist.
Salim impersonates a policeman and lures Anusha out of her home, intending to assault her, but Johny intervenes. Utpala needs help too. Her brother fell into the clutches of Vasantdada and before dying managed to write a letter that will bring the gang down. Johny and Billu rise to the occasion and decide to eliminate the gang and get revenge for Vasantdada’s past crimes. Vasantdada’s henchmen all wear matching outfits in different styles and colours each time they appear which was a nice detail (and helped me remember which fight was which).
Suhasini is one of my favourite actresses and while this is a fairly small role she made an impression as the good natured and straight forward Utpala. She suffers terrible loss but is determined to do the right thing. Utpala isn’t confident to act on her own and relies on Johny and Billu for advice and to do what is needed. She has a comedy scene or two, and Suhasini is not a woman I expect to see rolling drunk on screen. But she still looked lovely.
Anusha is a haughty heroine who doesn’t lack self-confidence at all. She is independent and determined but still needs Johny to save her on numerous occasions when having a sharp tongue isn’t enough.
And I haven’t mentioned the costumes. I think in this song the wardrobe guys were so horrified by this outfit
that they gave up on clothes for a while:
Chiru tends towards the high pants with the low belt, often doubling up on the fabric for both shirt and pants, and nicely accessorised with an eye catching array of gloves.
He opts for pleather for the big occasions, but as demonstrated in that song, costumes are not necessary for Johny to make a splash.
Chiru has better chemistry with Suhasini than with Radha, though perhaps that’s just my bias. It’s clear that the saucy Anusha is Johny’s type.
But really the focus of his performance is the heroics and that he does with his customary verve.
Nagendra Babu is sweet as Billu. Compared to Johny he is quiet and shy but he is handy in a fight. He favoured denim overalls and flowery shirts which added to the slightly comedic nice guy image. He is quite tall so the effect when he was flinging little bad guys around with abandon was very funny. It’s not surprising that he and Chiru have great rapport on screen and I liked seeing them bounce dialogue off each other in their scenes.
The story is based on a popular novel. The author Yandamoori Veerendranath adapted the screenplay himself and the pace and plotting is a strength of the film. There are obviously some scenes designed purely for maximum Mega presence, but Chiranjeevi manages to incorporate them all into the character of Johny so it flowed quite well.
The climax of the film is fantastic but I did have a horribly sick feeling in a couple of minutes of footage involving horse stunts. I am certain not all of the horses were unharmed and suspect a couple didn’t survive. If this worries you please don’t watch from around 2hrs 5 min to 2 hrs 8 min. Before that I was delighted by one of the most ridiculous fake aircraft I think I have ever seen and there were some nifty come-uppances for the baddies.
The Illaiyaraja soundtrack is nice enough but I struggle to recall the songs without the visuals. Chiranjeevi and Radha don’t have the greatest choreography to work with but give it all loads of energy and flair. Visually the film is very striking with lots of crazy camera angles, stylised compositions and reminds me a little of some vintage 60s spy shows, albeit with acid wash denim.
Marana Mrudangam is a pacey masala entertainment, and if you are prepared to perhaps skip the horse scene, this is very good fun. And really, it was worth seeing just for the surprise of the naked Chiru chicken dance. 4 stars!