Ravi Teja; caught in an image vortex?

The first movie of Ravi Teja that I was impressed by was Avunnu Vallu iddaru Ishtapadaru. This was one of the first movies that I saw in my graduation days at Vizag. Strolling close to Jyothi theatre, in pursuit of Indra’s tickets, my eye chanced upon a poster of the movie ‘Idiot’. My brain registered it as a movie that would be adulterous. The poster was such that it created intrigue in many minds. It had the protagonist digging his head into the bosom of the heroine.

 

I decided that I wouldn’t watch the movie, not that I was decent or anything, but I didn’t have enough money to splurge. I was also of the opinion that bar that scene, there wouldn’t be anything to look forward to in the movie. When I returned home for vacations, my father said that Idiot had the protagonist in a ‘different’ role. Still sceptical, I bought home a CD and admired the acting of the protagonist. I saw a few weeks ago in a diametrically opposite role and admired the acting potential. Little did I imagine that I was advancing towards fandom.

 

Come December and there was another release of Ravi Teja- Khadgam. I saw this in Vizag, before leaving home for vacations. There are two frames in this movie, that will always be etched in my memory; one, where Ravi Teja says ‘Devudu maayam ayipoyadu enti’ (How come god has vanished?) and the other where he says ‘haun! main!’ (yes that’s me) in his own inimitable style

 

Along the line, I saw all his movies multiple times. Then, in 2004, came the rip-roaring comedy Venky. A musical hit, it had Ravi Teja in full form. He was beginning to earn the respect of many more people by the dint of his comic timing. That a man, who appeared in 1991 in his first starring role and winged to a hero’s role in 2002 aroused curiosity. The best was yet to come, though

 

As he accrued hits and super hits in his account, people started complaining about the sameness in his roles. The ‘underdog’ achieving bigger things in life and getting the girl that he covets was being beaten to death by him. When he did veer off the beaten track, he met with failures.

 

He has been asked in multiple interviews about the similarity of his roles. His reply to them was simple and straight. The financial performance of a movie is more important than the critical acclaim. I did a few movies for critical acclaim and the world knows the fate of those movies (Naa Autograph, Neninthe)

 

This stretch of flops is a little painful for people who admire him. There is a block of around five minutes in Daruvu, which exposes the unseen side of Ravi Teja. The subdued portrayal of a Home Minister with negative shades burns the screen. Pity, it wasn’t developed as a full-blown idea.

 

There is another hidden aspect in Ravi Teja’s performances- dialogue modulation. Vikramarkudu, Venky, Neninthe, Kick, Mirpakay, name a movie and it would have superb dialogue modulation by Ravi Teja. The modulation is the main reason why he drew himself closer to the masses

 

There are certain set of people, who feel that his career has been book-ended by Pawan Kalyan’s blockbusters. The way fortunes change in the industry, he is just a hit away from redemption. Whether he gets it or not is best left to fate. The same group of people who have been writing obituaries for his career, in relation to Pawan Kalyan, must realise that no one would have played the characters he played, more convincingly than him. Yes, not even the man whose rejected films fell into his lap

 

Relativity is another reason why people are drawn to him. He is like the man next door, but in a hyper-active version. Bar Daruvu, I have never felt he overacted in other movies. The movies might have let him down, but he has never let down a movie.

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My friend: Kanduri Sesha Aditya

On a sweltering July afternoon, while playing cricket, was the first time that I set my eyes on him. Leaning on the lone tree on the playing field with his hands folded across his chest, it all seemed odd to me. Here he was, intensely looking on at the game, but not venturing to ask, if he could be a part of us. Going by the initial reports we got of the new kid on the block, it seemed even weirder. On the very first day itself, he had characterised himself as someone who is fluid with the girls, and questioned the lecturers incessantly

 

What followed the very next day was funny. He had the gall to call the most argumentative guy of our batch, a monkey. That man went to the lengths of entire Vizag to find out why he was called ‘a monkey’. What shocked us all was, he was the only guy with an entire month’s supply of tokens to the canteen, and was quite careless about the way he got rid of those tokens.

 

My relationship with him grew in bits. We went to a movie, Jayam, where we had our first fight. He wanted to be on time for the last bus from the city to the college, and I insisted that we finish watching the names card being rolled after the movie. Well, we did catch the bus back after all.

 

He was called with names of all sorts. One of the first names he responded to was ‘Caribbean’. It had more to do with the hairstyle he sported, and also the attire, rather than the colour of his skin. His colour was encapsulated in a few beautiful lines written by his sister in a letter, one of the first, he received from New Delhi, and it was so hilarious that I rib him till day with those same lines.

 

Unknown to us, the friendship was strengthened with every single day that passed. Another incident that remains rooted in the memory is the drive to Alpha Biryani hotel on a rainy day. When these little wishes of his were fulfilled, the eyebrows came together, and he squealed with delight, uttering the words ‘it’s fun’. These two words are etched in the memory of everyone who was around him, when he was excited. None more so than the incident in the resort opposite our hostel. I can write a book of anecdotes on him, but would save it for a rainy day.

 

After college, I went to work, and he went on to pursue his post-graduation. Every phone conversation we had, he never forgot to remind me that my office didn’t have AC, while his college had one. His first job was a source of much fun. His boss, and his obsession for perfect pronunciation of telugu words was the butt of many jokes. Then came his association with MAYTAS. When questioned about the company, he used to go on an extempore which was based on the premise that MAYTAS was SATYAM spelt backwards. When MAYTAS was on the verge of a breakdown, he never expressed frustration. All he spoke about was his trust on the company. That for me is panacea. It represents his core. He totally believes in what he does, at that moment.

 

Every single gal he linked me to, got married within an year of the link-up. Jokes apart, he was my go-to man whenever my relationship was in trouble. I could sob inconsolably, and laugh heartily with him next to me, and never be judged. His piece of advice to me will always stand me in good stead. He said ‘Never let ego hamper you in getting close to a person. If you really want the person in your life, nothing else should matter’. He was there for me: always.

 

I remember him being by my side in the hour of my greatest crisis. What adds to the situation is the fact that his sister’s engagement was just a couple of days away. We rip each other apart, when we get talking about beliefs. I don’t vouch for most of the things that he stands up for, but given the sort of passion that he puts up in every endeavour of his, you are led to believe the man rather than his beliefs

 

Thanks for being there, Adi

Gabbar Singh movie review

Harish Shankar has delivered what he promised. He promised a movie, made for Pawan Kalyan, by a Pawan Kalyan fan. And delivered a hit. A hit that had Pawan Kalyan fans waiting for a generation. It might break the existing records, or may not. What matters is, that the fans hunger for a hit has been satiated

 

The thing with the movie is, you know what’s coming yet you find yourself drawn to the narrative. Case in point being Pawan Kalyan’s introduction. After the kid’s roles are done with, you are left in no suspense as the screen flashes ‘After some years …. The kid grows up to be Pawan Kalyan’

 

I always felt that the true potential of Pawan Kalyan was yet to be tapped. He has always been offered roles that are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. Either underplay them, or indulge in overacting (Yes, Jalsa was an exception). I would rate this performance of his as his second best. This is Pawan Kalyan seldom seen, a version which sent his fans crazy.

 

He sends the fans into joyous mode with every dialogue in the first half. Though he seemed reluctant to dance, a few moves sent the crowd into a tizzy. Every time the theme music of the movie was played out, which was ‘always’, Pawan Kalyan had the crowd eating out of his hands. The second half was slower in pace as the director had to tie and untie a lot of knots.

 

The only complaint, and a huge joy from the movie are related to the same thing- the entendre in the movie. For the second big-ticket film in succession, we have a female character uttering them. In a way it was surprising as every frame that Gayatri appears in, Ali is around the corner, but doesn’t end up delivering them, which incidentally is a source of huge joy.

 

Ali is there for a reason- to elevate Pawan’s character. Suhasini does her part well, and so does Nagineedu. Ajay and Kota were wasted in short roles, but nobody is complaining. Yes, I said that Pawan was reluctant to dance, but two of his moments come in the bit songs. One in the ‘Mandhu babulam’ song, and the other in the ‘antakashari’ when the song ‘baavo … subullu baavo’ comes up.

 

  • Pawan Kalyan comes back to the hit mode, and in style. He lets go of all the inhibitions in the movie, and boy isn’t he exuberant? A few months ago, when Panjaa released, I said

 

In his initial movies, he tasted success through remakes and there is no harm in actually doing the same now. That his next movie is a remake might provide the emotional cushion for a man who is enduring the roughest of rough patches. He nearly put a halt to it with Jalsa but the confused narrative didn’t allow the movie to get to the next level

 

Yes he is back to the hit mode through a remake, but the credit belongs to him that he stepped out of his comfort zone to act in the movie. It is a pity that he doesn’t have a follow up movie to this movie anytime soon. It was a thing that he did after Khushi. Hope this time he doesn’t endure a run as bad as he had to, after that movie. He is one among the four major aspirants for the number one in Telugu Film Industry, and he is the one who has had the best shot at Mahesh’s position this summer.

 

  • Shruthi Hassan doesn’t have much to do in the movie. Yes, she does put an end to the horror run she has been having since her debut movie, but she needs a substantial role to leave her mark. The sooner she gets it, better for her

 

  • Harish Shankar is the man responsible for giving Pawan Kalyan the much needed hit. His dialogues are the main reason why the movie has got great openings. Being a fan of the actor, he exactly knew what the fans were expecting out of the star, and he delivered