Rahul Ramakrishna was an unknown gem until Arjun Reddy hit theatres in 2017. Although he had appeared in the popular short film Sainma and the feature drama Jayammu Nischayammu Raa by then, he was still more or less a novice. Arjun Reddy gave him the perfect platform to showcase his friendly avatar.
His character, Shiva, stands with the eponymous hero, played by Vijay Deverakonda, through thick and thin. Somewhere in the film, Shiva remarks that being friends with Reddy is like peeing all over oneself. It’s a LOL-heavy scene, but he casually inserts this piece of diatribe as though it’s a bit of raw commentary and moves on. It subtly shows Rahul Ramakrishna’s mastery over the craft of acting. Maybe another actor would have paused at that juncture for a moment and relished the result of having nailed that particular line. But that doesn’t happen with him.
Shiva is the only person, in fact, who doesn’t try to distance himself from Reddy’s obnoxious behavior. Even when it becomes too difficult to handle the outbursts of an alcoholic, he manages to help his buddy see the light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s true that the actor embodies a character in the film – that of a companion who celebrates and broods over the protagonist’s successes and failures, respectively. In the course of almost three and a half years since the release of Arjun Reddy, he has starred in more than a dozen Telugu films in varying roles – from being a sidekick to playing the lead, he’s done it all. In addition to acting, he’s worked behind the camera, as well. He has worn the cap of a writer and lyricist, and his words, often, joyously brim with the energy of the Telangana brand of Telugu.
Rahul Ramakrishna belongs to a niche batch of actors who initially found fame on YouTube. The other members of this club are Priyadarshi, Vishnu OI, and Abhinav Gomatam. All these actors have collaborated with Tharun Bhascker and Vijay Deverakonda one way or another. Their frothy off-screen friendship, therefore, spills over to the characters they portray on-screen. When you see them together in, say, Taxiwaala (with Deverakonda and Vishnu OI), or Meeku Maathrame Cheptha (with Bhascker and Gomatam), you feel their lively spirit.
As comedians, such as M. S. Narayana, Dharmavarapu Subramanyam, and Venu Madhav, have bid us goodbye, the time has come for Telugu filmmakers to turn their attention towards the younger crop. A decade and a half ago, Vennela Kishore played a college student in Vennela, and two decades ago, Sunil was roped in as a student in numerous films. The comedy tracks from Sontham and Nuvvu Nenu, thanks to the latter, are still garnering views on YouTube.
Now that those two actors, owing to their age , have stopped playing students and passed the mantle to twenty-something men, Priyadarshi and Rahul Ramakrishna are making hay. The duo starred alongside Sree Vishnu, in Brochevarevarura, and walked away with applause and awards for their impeccable comic timing. Mithai, which was also headlined by the duo, however, couldn’t live up to its name as it cycled in and out of chaos. It had a rudderless plot that went in different directions and died slowly and painfully.
Had Mithai worked in their favor, they would have probably become a force to reckon with. Well, that’s not a problem even now, as they have been receiving offers from various directors. Priyadarshi was recently seen in Naandhi as a guy who tries to get an innocent man out of prison with his shrewdness. And Rahul Ramakrishna has featured in movies fronted by A-list stars, such as Mahesh Babu (in Bharat Ane Nenu) and Allu Arjun (in Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo). These points indicate that they’re on the right path.
In earlier days, up-and-coming actors had to first act as assistants to senior actors before they could make a mark. The seniors would belittle the juniors regularly and even kick and slap them and pass off insult as slapstick. Although this trope has reduced drastically, it still exists in the rule book of Telugu cinema as it continues to draw viewers. Priyadarshi and Rahul Ramakrishna have gallantly escaped this torturous tradition. The reason behind this phenomenon can partly be attributed to the filmmakers they have worked with – new-age directors who’re willing to go the extra mile to experiment with genres.
Jathi Ratnalu, in this regard, is going to be exciting, for it stars the duo along with Naveen Polishetty. In terms of sheer satire, it’s perhaps going to be another Brochevarevarura, but let’s hold our breath on that one until the movie lights up the theatres.