Rey! 3am and we were still discussing Charan’s amazing hair, his dedication to bringing the cape back and the total masala fun of Rachcha. Another adventure without subtitles, we saw it with an appreciative audience notable for the number of women attending. Usually we hear a high pitched squeal of fandom and look around to see a dude in a suit. But Charan seems to bring the ladies out, and we can see why. There’s plenty of action, excellent choreography and at least for Charan, some superb costumes. Charan channels Chiru in his own inimitable style and with a nod to the camera that says he knows what we’re thinking, while Tamanna holds her own in both the dancing and drama stakes.
The film starts with the opening banner of Mega Supergood Films and, since any reference at all to the word ‘mega’ had the audience screaming, ensured that we were deafened right away. After a flashback involving young Raj, a significant necklace and the extremely dramatic death of his parents, we learn that present day Raj (Ram Charan) is being brought up by comedy stalwart M.S. Narayana and his wife (Sudha). ‘Betting’ Raj spends his days, well, betting and when his adopted father needs a liver transplant it’s the ‘logical’ way for him to raise money. He accepts a wager with James (Ajmal Ameer) to make the daughter of a rich businessman fall in love with him. Raj and James have a history involving a train, 2 cars and a game of chicken, so Raj is not without some reservations, but his situation is desperate.
Chaitra (Tamanna) is that rich girl. Chaitra never seems to go anywhere without her escort of 2 motorbike outriders, 4 SUVs and various bodyguards, so it’s a real challenge for Raj to approach her at all. Luckily he has accomplices (a flock of comedy uncles) so Raj is able to attend to the serious business of flirtation. In one of the many fun tributes to Chiranjeevi sprinkled through the film Raj infiltrates her medical college to the strains of Shankar Dada MBBS and all the collar popping and swagger that goes with it. Naturally it doesn’t take long for Chaitra to appreciate the well styled hair and many charms of Raj. Or does she? Tamanna is a very capable actress, and she does get a bit more to do in Rachcha than we expected. Unfortunately she does get a few scenes where she seems more like an escaped mental patient as she marvels at waterfalls, flowers, a fence painted yellow etc.
As we knew from Badrinath, Tamanna has a great imagination for song costumes and accessories. Raj appears in a couple of full length capes and with a number of scarves. At one stage we thought perhaps she had been expecting a hero more famous for his multiple layers of singlets, shirts, jackets and scarves, but Charan wore it all with aplomb. The curse of the blind stylist only seems to strike at Tamanna but does strike hard and often. The constant mini skirt and short shorts outfits were not particularly flattering, and the choreography and camera angles didn’t help.
Mani Sharma’s songs aren’t brilliant musically speaking, but the picturisations are awesomely entertaining and the choreography is excellent. The costume teams go all out (poor Tamanna) and the dancing is infectiously energetic and engaging. Charan just gets better and better. He has a good musicality and a sense of the overall appearance of a song. He doesn’t fall into the trap of substituting too many tricks and gymnastics for dancing. It’s a pleasure to watch him, and his facial expressions in the songs are highly entertaining. Tamanna is his match in energy and expression.
The two actually dance together rather than just using the heroine purely for her glamour quotient and it feels like a real partnership. There isn’t any sizzling chemistry but more of a camaraderie which works well enough to make their romance acceptable, especially considering the rather dubious origins in a bet.
Chaitra’s father Bellary (Mukesh Rishi) is not impressed by Raj and when the pair escape he sends for the big guns in the form of Dev Gill in manic villain mode. You can tell he is insane because he wears a coat inspired by Noddy and Big Ears or a high school production of Pirates of Penzance. He had a pathological attachment to this coat and he never appeared without it. This diluted his menace considerably as we giggled uncontrollably every time we saw him.
The second half explains the real reason for the bet, and sets up the climax. The flashback episode is too long but it leads up to an excellent fight. The action scenes are brilliantly choreographed, using Charan’s physical skills to great effect. Raj was a resourceful and efficient fighter, usually going for the classic ‘kick em in the nuts’ approach rather than anything too impractical. Although he used a flaming wheel and even threw a motorbike at his atttackers in one scene so he was never dull. Sampath Nandi toyed with the audience when he put Charan, Dev Gill and a helicopter in one scene, teasing with the possibility of a Magadheera replay. Rather sensibly the director chose to leave Charan on the ground and let him deal with his problems the old-fashioned way – with a very impressive axe.
There is a pointless appearance by Ali. Brahmi, Venu Madhav and Srinivasa Reddy were moderately amusing in their roles and at least the story did have a flimsy reason for their presence. Srinivasa Rao Kota, Nasser, Raghu Babu and various others turn up and do their usual thing. Satya Krishnan makes a small appearance in a fun women vs men backyard cricket match, and there are some really enjoyable little moments with minor characters. We have to give a big shout-out to the backing dancers and the rather listless ‘dance students’ for their efforts. The comedy and subplots were all more or less tied to the main story which helped keep things moving along. The audience dissolved into hysterics when a man at a roadside restaurant knocked back his drink and then picked up a chicken and sniffed it. Granted that alone was pretty funny, but we did wonder if perhaps there was a reference there that we didn’t spot?
There were plenty of references throughout the film to Chiranjeevi movies and Charan wears a number of outfits that are pure Chiru style. White trousers, black socks and white loafers made a come back, as did loud shirts and colour blocking. He has his father’s mannerisms down pat and it added another dimension to the film to see how many of these tributes we could pick up. And we think it is a smart way for him to deal with the pressure of expectation – he is always compared to his father, so why not own those references and play them with his own style. We were a little disappointed that the significant necklace (which Chaitra could only discover late in the story) meant that Charan kept to a rather modest look, but Vaana Vaana with the dancing in the rain was some compensation.
We have now seen both the original Vaana Vaana from Gang Leader and this remix on the big screen, and the Mega Men certainly know their way around a rain song!
Rachcha is Charan’s vehicle and he delivers a full mass performance that is exciting and very watchable. Tamanna got plenty of cheers from our audience for her dancing and at her speech just before the climax. The songs and fights are so well executed that they had us cheering along too. It’s a visually pleasing film, and has a sense of fun in amongst the action and drama. The story is a familiar one, very much inspired by the type of films Chiru made back in the day, but who says that’s a bad thing? Despite a plethora of comedy uncles, Sampath Nandi delivers a fun and entertaining film that we both want to watch again.
Oooh that sounds amazing! 😀 It seems to be just pure, unapologetic, crazy masala fun.
E.g. Awesome. I just could cry my heart out at the fact that I won´t get a chance to see the movie until the DVD comes out. *Darn the film distributers for forgetting that there are some serious Cherry&Tamannah fans in Germany too!*
I am glad to hear that Cherry works around the constant comparisons with his father in his own way. I always feel sorry for him when they do that but I think it´s better to acknowledge it than trying to do something completely different. If you do watch the film again please cheer for him from cold and far away Germany too, okay? Thanks. 😉
Hi Marta 🙂 We miss out on lots of new releases too, but luckily got this one after a long hiatus. The distributors here are a small scale operation so they have to pick and choose what they think will get an audience. The crowd really got into watching Rachcha and were laughing and cheering all through the film so that made it even more entertaining. They might have an extra show on Monday so if I do succumb and see it again I’ll cheer for both of us 😀 Temple
Is the chicken at roadside restaurant scene similar to this ?
Hi Sasank – that poor chicken! Thank you for your research but no it was a much shorter scene. The man is sitting on a bench, knocks back a peg of spirits and then grabs a chicken that was standing near him and sniffs it. Most odd! I’m not sure if he said anything, but maybe there was a dialogue or music reference I completely missed. Cheers 🙂 Temple
You see temple ,
Kota srinivasa rao in this scene is trying to save money by eating plain rice while looking at the chicken. This scene is from the Jandhyala’s magnum opus ‘Aha naa pellanta’.
It was Brahmi’s debut film.
So I am guessing the guy in Racha was trying to save money by sniffing the chicken.
I am not sure. I didnt watch the movie.
Thanks Sasank – yet another occasion when subs would have been helpful (on the Aha Naa Pellanta clip) 🙂 Your explanation certainly fits. Perhaps you should petition the Telugu Film Industry and say you’re exhausted from explaining things to overseas audiences, and would they please please please subtitle films?
It’s a plausible explanation 🙂
And thanks for explaining – I do wish they would at least subtitle DVD releases even if they can’t manage new releases. It’s so frustrating knowing that you are missing so much by not understanding the dialogue!
Have you watched Aha naa pellanta ladies ?
Subtitles are available..
Hi Sasank – No I haven’t. Nothing I have read about it tempts me as generally I find films labelled as ‘comedy’ are the least funny 🙂 Temple
Temple, which notable Telugu ‘comedy’ movies have you watched , which has made you dislike this genre so much ?
Hi Sasank – it isn’t specifically Telugu comedy I dislike. I prefer humour that emerges from characters’ reactions and situations and is integral to the plot and ‘comedy’ for the sake of comedy rarely entertains me (in any language). Like anyone, there are styles of jokes and humour that appeal to me and some I don’t find funny at all so I prefer a film that has other core elements (drama, action, even romance) as well. Cheers, Temple
You have thoroughly misunderstood what comedy films mean.
Comedy films are never about comedy uncles and cheap ‘comedy for the sake of comedy’ scenes.
This genre was very popular from 1984 to 1994.
It is a genre that is exclusive to Telugu cinema.
Aha Naa pellanta is more of a drama. It is more like ‘Chantabbai’ (also directed by Jandhyala).
If you just arent convinced by Aha naa pellanta you can try another Jandhyala movie.
Its Choopulu Kalisina Subhavela. http://www.cinegoer.com/tsb/choopulu.htm
Hi Sasank. In theatrical/literary terms comedy is generally defined as a story with a happy ending (it can have a dramatic and downbeat section before the ending). Since Shakespeare or thereabouts, it has further evolved to mean generally having a light tone. Within the genre there is a range of styles from farce, comedy of errors, comedy of manners etc and a corresponding range of subjects making it quite a broad genre but with the same ultimate aim. Film marketing generally uses the term ‘comedy’ to describe a film that is intended to be humorous, producing laughs etc. If anything I find much Indian cinema comedy has a similar style to the Commedia Dell’Arte where performers improvised within set characters and situations. Regardless of the definition you want to apply, as I said earlier, nothing I have read about Aha Naa Pellanta appeals to me. I enjoyed Chantabbai because of Chiru, and it is a remake of a film I quite like so it was interesting to see from that perspective. Thanks for the review of Choopula Kalisina Subhavela. Cheers, Temple
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