Sunday, June 16, 2024

‘Ravanasura’ movie review: This Ravi Teja film directed by Sudheer Varma is a half-hearted thriller

Ravi Teja in director Suheer Varma’s ‘Ravanasura’

Ravi Teja in director Suheer Varma’s ‘Ravanasura’
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

‘We are all bad in someone’s story’. ‘I am not in danger, I am the danger’. Director Sudheer Varma uses these widely popular references to Joker and Breaking Bad to make his leading man, Ravi Teja as a metaphor for Ravanasura, seem dark and evil. He also juxtaposes a half portrait of Joker with the wickedly grinning face of Ravi Teja. There’s potential in that frame for an unnerving thriller that can also discuss good versus evil beyond the binary. There’s scope for plenty of greys. 

The Telugu film Ravanasura begins with a murder in a public space, with the accused having no memory of having committed the crime. Elsewhere, we are introduced to Ravindra (Ravi Teja), a junior criminal lawyer under Kanaka Mahalakshmi (Faria Abdullah). He is goofy and flirtatious and for a while, it seems like any other Ravi Teja film. He tries to convince Kanaka Mahalakshmi to take up the case of Harika (Megha Akash) simply to try and win over the latter. There is a mandatory action sequence to introduce the hero and a couple of songs to establish his equation with Kanaka Mahalakshmi and Harika.

Ravanasura
Cast: Ravi Teja, Sushanth, Megha Akash, Faria Abdullah
Direction: Sudheer Varma
Music: Harshavardhan Rameshwar, Bheems Ceciroleo

It takes some time for the narrative to find its groove and reveal that Ravindra’s silliness is a facade. Meanwhile, crime branch officer Hanumantha Rao (Jayaram) suspects something fishy. While his team discovers the modus operandi of a crime, Ravindra begins to show his evil side. These segments keep us somewhat invested in the proceedings. He has all the markers of a psychopath — sadistic overtures, a warped sense of humour and no sense of empathy. In these portions, Ravi Teja is in his element, enjoying embracing the darker side.

The plot thickens with the arrival of Saket (Sushanth). In the first talk-heavy half of the film, Saket rarely gets to speak and yet makes his presence felt. Sushanth plays his part efficiently. To reveal more about him would be giving away spoilers.

Sudheer and his co-writer Srikanth Vissa reveal one twist after another. Identities are changed, murders are committed and the police are thrown off the trail now and then. However, the thrill factor fizzles out quickly and it is easy to guess that there will be a backstory to justify a character’s actions. 

It is given that the leading man of a mainstream Telugu film, especially an actor known for mass appeal, cannot be shown as a full-fledged criminal. Sudheer places Ravi Teja within this framework. The backstory makes every other character seem eviler than one could fathom, almost caricaturish. An item number is also thrown in before the vigilante justice story reaches its expected end. Oh, where did Faria’s character disappear in the later portions?

Ravi Teja, Sushanth, Faria Abdullah, Megha Akash and Jayaram get their space to perform while others, including Daksha Nagarkar, Poojitha Ponnada and Anu Emmanuel try to make an impression in their limited parts. 

Ravanasura tries to be a wicked, crowd-pleasing thriller but invokes neither fear nor empathy for what unfolds on the screen.

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