Director: Anudeep KV
Cast: Naveen Polishetty, Priyadarshi, Rahul Ramakrishna, Faria Abdullah
Telugu cinema has celebrated good-for-nothing men for several decades. Aimless youths have great stories to tell, as they are excellent observers. They might be lazy, but they're not stupid. In Pelli Choopulu, Prasanth (Vijay Deverakonda) doesn't aspire to achieve anything until he falls in love with Chitra (Ritu Varma). She shows him how he can convert his hobby into a well-paying job. And soon enough, he becomes an entrepreneur. His adeptness at whipping up awesome dishes gives him the much needed impetus to turn into a chef.
Srikanth (Naveen Polishetty), from Jathi Ratnalu, who falls into the same category thinks that the grass is greener on the other side and expresses his desire to work at an MNC in Hyderabad in the opening scenes. He tells a friend that he'd like to wear an ID card around his neck and call the shots. In his hometown (Jogipet), he's not respected by some people because he's somewhat of a wastrel. Though he cradles the notion of bagging a job that'll change his life for the better, he doesn't know where to begin with. He's an expert on the subject matter of sarees and jewelries, but he doesn't consider it an asset since it mostly brings him misery.
Prasanth and Srikanth do not belong to the same social circle. They are as different as chalk and palkova. But we would have enjoyed their banter had they become friends. These are the kinds of men who don't participate in anything that enriches them. They look for shortcuts to make it big. They are happy to receive the spotlight whenever an opportunity arises, nonetheless.
When Srikanth finally lands in Hyderabad, along with his friends, Sekhar (Priyadarshi) and Ravi (Rahul Ramakrishna), he realizes that he's a fish out of water. However, these three twenty-somethings are lovable goofs and their zaniness knows no bounds. While they earned the wrath of their family members in Jogipet for roaming around the town day and night without a care in the world, they have nobody to stop them in the metropolitan city.
Every line is a joke and every gesture is a nod to the genre that Jathi Ratnalu sides with. Many dialogues seem to have stemmed from on-the-spot improvisation. Polishetty, Priyadarshi, and Rahul Ramakrishna are wonderful actors who are certainly capable of pulling off such a no-holds-barred task because they have done it several times on-screen – in different formats.
Polishetty's experience in making crazy YouTube videos comes in handy here, for he steers the story. He's a wholesome package – a hero and a comedian rolled into one. He's not shy of making a fool of himself in front of the camera. He played a detective who needed the help of his female assistant to get out of a life-threatening situation in Agent Sai Srinivasa Athreya. And in this latest release, he struggles to form a coherent sentence in English.
Of course, the structure of the film provides him ample space to twist the words. But leading men in Indian cinema aren't always so large-hearted. If they're mocked for being vulnerable, or for not being able to speak English, in one scene, they make it a point to give it back to their detractors in the climax. This is a standard template that has not gone out of fashion since the 50s. Polishetty doesn't think in those terms. He's comfortable wearing the skin of a deer – he doesn't need to become a lion.
He may star in a true-blue action film in the future. But I'm sure he'll pour freshness there, as well. As far as Chitti (Faria Abdullah) is concerned, I must say that I have never seen the crowd in a theatre erupt in euphoria at the sight of a debut actor. This remarkable feat won't keep happening every year. It's a rare phenomenon and the halo surrounding her won't fade away anytime soon. Though Abdullah's screen time is limited, she sizzles her way through the movie, and her scenes with Polishetty are cute.
Chitti and Srikanth, in a country ravaged by caste and class, couldn't have come together in the first place. But writer-director Anudeep KV crosses that barrier with the "Chitti" song and it's an absolute pleasure to watch the young couple drop passionate one-liners into each other's ears. Lyricist Ramajogayya Sastry's simple-and-fun turns of phrase are perhaps all you need to convey love. If Anudeep ever makes a sequel, he should dig into this plot point more and explore their inner lives.
There's another thing about Jathi Ratnalu that I want to bring to your notice. Brahmanandam, in his cameo appearance, is quite effective. But his age seems to be catching up with him and I'm not at all ready to witness that. This is not good news for the die-hard fans of Telugu cinema. Will we ever see him kick the gym ball in frustration and make long strides towards Nassar, like he did in Baadshah? Ah, sigh!