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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