Critic’s Rating : 2.0 / 5
Rama Rao On Duty Movie Review : Ravi Teja and Venu deserved a better film to face-off
Review: Sarath Mandava’s Rama Rao on Duty is a chore to sit through. The film meanders between being a proper thriller and a masala entertainer that’s not engaging. Right from the get-go, there’s a lot of information being forced down your throat about everything from what a government employee does to how red sanders smuggling works. But if the director really wanted his viewers to concentrate, the punch dialogues, fight scenes with slow motion shots and special numbers peppering it are an odd choice.
Rama Rao (Ravi Teja) has just been transferred to Chittoor in the 90s because he’s the kind of man who likes to go above and beyond this duty to solve issues. And because he’s the hero of this film, he’s transferred to remote areas instead of removed from duty for setting two baddies on fire. He moves back home with his wife Nandini (Divyansha Kaushik) and a young son, and it’s all just one big happy family. His ex-flame Malini (Rajisha Vijayan) is looking for her missing husband and to sell off property so she can pay his debts. CI Jammi Murali (Venu) is looking for some missing maal because he has his own interests to serve. What happens when Rao’s search for a missing person leads him to something much deeper?
On paper Rama Rao on Duty seems exciting, even if it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. There’s red sandalwood smuggling that goes on unchecked, especially because there’s some top dogs involved in it too. Rama Rao might be happy to reconnect with his friends and family but the more the layers are peeled back, the more he realises that everything is not what it seems. While the film kind of works when it sticks to the nitty-gritty, it really does not when it relies on commercial elements to carry it through. The special number with blurred body parts and two odd duet songs set abroad with white dancers in the background really stick out like a sore thumb. The twist before the interval works a little better than the one in the climax that’s a total let-down. And because of the treatment, you know no harm will befell Rama Rao even when he’s really surrounded by those who want to harm him.
Ravi Teja is handed a role that really lets him show he’s more than just a ‘mass maharaja’, but we only wish it would’ve been in a well-written film. The actor trades in his usual energetic, OTT body language and massy dialogues for something much more subtle. It works, so it’s sad the film doesn’t. Rajisha breezes through her role but Divyansha comes across amateurish. Both the ladies definitely look way too young to be romancing Ravi Teja, no matter how fit he looks. Nasser, Naresh, Rahul Ramakrishna and others do a good enough job. It’s a delight to see Venu make a comeback, not as the family friendly man he used to play, but as a cunning police officer who’s borderline annoying. Again, it’s sad this film wasn’t better written.
By the end of Rama Rao on Duty, you come away knowing that Pushpa Raj (and Sukumar) had lied to you. Red sandalwood does not float on water (as shown in a key scene in Pushpa), it actually sinks! Ravi Teja and Venu really deserved a film that didn’t sink too.