Nenu Na Rakshasi is a brave new attempt at narrative storytelling with a homily and a statistical chart in the middle of it. Puri Jagannadh does it with chutzpah as he takes Abhi- Abhimanyu (Rana) and Meenakshi (Ileana D'Cruz) through the gamut of emotions asking the question that Hamlet grappled with: “To be or not to be”. In the process, the director tries to marry the slickness of a gripping action thriller with masala elements that are the staple of Telugu cinema. The movie is like a person trying to sail in two boats at the same time.
Abhi is a bank security guard's son who grows up watching his father's double barrelled gun and fancies a rifle and becomes a national level rifle shooter. A twist in fate turns him into a hitman who gets an MMS on his iPhone and he takes down the target with his sniper's rifle (okay they missed out the silencer). One day, after a hit, he goes to a graveyard to collect the money under a pile of bricks when a lady walks in wearing black. The camera pans ever so slowly from the stilettos to the black frock finally to reveal a chiselled-featured Ileana. Our man in aviator glasses is besotted at first glance. He stalks her and discovers that there is another stalker. She turns out to be a fetchingly beautiful Meenakshi who works in a bistro as a waitress. Between them there is more physics and less chemistry till their path intersects at a railway station with devastating personal consequences. He wants to end his life; she also wants to end her life. The why is the strand that keeps the plot moving forward.
The first half is rivetingly racy, so what, if both the hero and the heroine look as if they are doing a catwalk and are not acting in a movie. Counter intuitively, how emotional can a sniper be? And how much expression can a masked woman bring onto her face except for her attempting to expand the saucer shaped eyes? Rana has a frame-filling screen presence and is a natural when the camera is not on him, but he makes a hash of it while switching over from the sniper to the lover boy in Venice trying to woo a girl. Ileana gets to do a bit of emotional drama right at the beginning and nearing the end. Abhimanyu Singh continues his psychopathic avatar invented in Rakta Charitra and he travels far and wide to do it. The pacing of the movie is a little awkward and just as you give up on the movie and scan the exit doors, the director injects a bit of interest to move the storyline. The ending is a tad clichéd.
The tawdry sleaze track of Mumaith Khan and Ali aimed at the whistle blowers in the front rows is distraction in an otherwise good experiment. You can hum the music in the cinema hall and forget about it when you step out of it.
The movie is certified ‘A' for graphic violence and language.
Nenu Na Rakshasi
Genre: Action romance
Cast: Rana Daggubati, Ileana D'Cruz, Abhimanyu Singh, Subbaraju
Director: Puri Jagannadh
Bottomline: Experimental attempt at sailing in two boats