Cast: Ram Charan, Kiara Advani, Vivek Oberoi
Director: Boyapati Srinu
Vinaya Vidheya Rama’s trailer had given us plentiful clues as to how the film would be – an action drama that would fail to respect our ear drums. But only after watching the movie did I realise that filmmakers like Boyapati Sreenu are adamant on making movies their own way despite the land sliding comments that are stacked against them. His latest release goes on to prove that you can get a headache by sitting through terrible movies. And, sadly, no amount of caffeine can erase these memories. In times like these I wish Lacuna, Inc., from Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind were a real firm.
Ram Charan, who had dazzled us all in Rangasthalam last year, is back to flexing his muscles at the drop of a hat. Here, he plays Rama, a warrior who can wipe out an army of 300 men, but, when it comes to talking to his love interest (there’s just no better way to put it), he falters. He’s introduced multiple times throughout the film – via songs and scenes – by his brothers and sisters-in-law. Their only job seems to either dote on him at family gatherings or praise his valor when they are pitted against the villains.
Though Rama has four older brothers, all of whom are married, only Bhuvan Kumar (Prashanth) has something to do. It applies to the women too as Gayatri Devi (Sneha) is the only one who gets a few lines. Oh, by the way, these five siblings are actually orphans who live under the same roof. Sreenu must have probably thought that this little detail would tear us up. But he didn’t spare a minute to think if his vulgar hero-worship would obstruct the storytelling. He doesn’t seem to give a damn about any other character while penning his scripts. The film’s main antagonist, Raja Bhai (Vivek Oberai), is so evil and powerful that a venomous snake dies after biting him. It’s not a laughing matter, for he’s seen threatening a kid while attempting this stunt.
While the hero and villains get their unruly moments, Sita (Kiara Advani) is brought to the screen through close-up shots of her navel and bosom. The camera takes a few seconds to rise to her face. Actresses in such films are treated as plates of meat that are offered to the hungry male audience. Sita literally has zero number of things to do. She’s a character with no purpose; a grape in a pineapple farm. This is what happens when the character sketch for a female lead is left blank.
Along with the bawdy camera-work that Vinaya Vidheya Rama indulges in, there are some dialogues in the movie that turn rapes and harassment into fodder for chuckles. Forget the moral compass, these jokes don’t even land. There really isn’t anything to take home. Sita’s mother (played by Hema) is a women’s rights activist who kicks rapists in the nuts, and her husband (played by Prudhvi Raj) is seen kowtowing to her all the time. It’s 2019, and some directors are still re-imagining the domineering-wife-and-henpecked-husband equation that was made famous by the Brahmanandam-Kovai Sarala duo a decade and a half ago.
Vinaya Vidheya Rama borrows the setup from the Kannada movie Tagaru where the antagonists were killed by the protagonist in the first fifteen minutes. Sreenu turns the knob on this setup and puts Rama and Raja Bhai in the middle of an action-heavy sequence in the beginning itself. The film then takes more than an hour and a half to get to this point. It’s an interesting narrative device to throw the characters in, and, if it were even half as gripping as Tagaru, I’d have walked out of the theatre with a smile. But Sreenu’s hero is the sort of person that runs into glass doors and leaves without a scratch because his brother, an honest IAS officer, is being beaten up by unknown assailants for doing his job correctly.
And, oh, what a downfall this has been for Vivek Oberoi! If he’s worried about the dwindling roles in Hindi cinema, his villainous appearances in Telugu and Tamil should worry him more, for he’s simply employed to be loud and rapacious in these forgettable action dramas. As for Ram Charan, he should stay away from Sreenu forever if he wants to be a part of decent films in the future.