Cinema

Bruce Lee: All that gloss

Ram Charan and Rakul Preet Singh

Ram Charan and Rakul Preet Singh  

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When the entire antagonist track opens with an illogical act, probably one shouldn’t expect much.

They show us snatches of what happens on the sets of a typical commercial film, where the makers play to the gallery to mint money. Karthik (Ram Charan) — let’s call him Bruce Lee since that’s how he’s referred to by his peers in this film — is a stuntman performing risky stunts and doubling up for a hero. A director and a crew member on the sets share a casual, caustic remark about the lack of content and having to make up for it with things that pack a punch.

That scene is so apt in the context of Bruce Lee, a film in which director Sreenu Vaitla claims to have moved away from his template. Which template, we wonder. If it is the done-to-death Dookudu template, yes, he has moved away from it. Has he to moved on to something better though?

Bruce Lee is the hero who can do no wrong. As a child, he is the centre of focus for his father (Rao Ramesh) who hopes the boy will grow up to be an IAS officer. Never mind if there’s an intelligent daughter who dreams big. The boy gets the larger share of the pie. The boy understands how badly his sister wants to become an IAS officer and scores lesser marks on purpose so that his father’s attention would shift to his sister. A hero who grows up sacrificing his own interests for his sister is bound to warm the hearts of the audience, isn’t it? As Bruce Lee, the stuntman, he basks in the love of his sister Kavya (Kriti Karbanda) and gets chided by the father.

The crux of these portions might look dated but Sreenu Vaitla handles it fairly well, mixing it with fun on the sets of Bruce Lee’s films. Good girls, like the sister, are usually composed and focussed. But in a typical masala film, the heroine ends up being silly. Riya (Rakul Preet) fits the bill.

Rakul is gorgeous and gives the role her best shot. It’s not her fault that her role oscillates between being awed by the hero and being silly enough to expect him to nail every culprit in town so that she can have a peaceful sleep. In fact, she is given many dialogues about how a good cop can make people live in peace and have a sound sleep! Of course, she spots Bruce Lee in a cop’s uniform when he’s taking someone to task. Bruce Lee carries on the charade.

The real fun, or suspension of disbelief as they call it in cinematic parlance, comes much later, when an intelligence bureau officer entrusts a tough task to Bruce Lee. Keeping logic aside as to whether an IB officer would engage the services of a stuntman as opposed to an undercover cop, it’s laughable when Bruce Lee does almost everything on his own.

The method doesn’t involve mind games, just a bunch of comic actors who raise the already high decibel levels (music by Thaman) even further with their high-pitched dialogue delivery. There’s a spoof on PK (poor Rajkumar Hirani) and Brahmanandam arrives as an undercover cop.

When the entire antagonist track opens with an illogical act, probably one shouldn’t expect much. Picture this: A guy walks into a star hotel with a guitar case loaded with rifles and breezes through the security scanner.

Arun Vijay and Sampath Raj are the antagonists here. The former is thoroughly wasted; the latter pulls off a neat act.

Bruce Lee is a huge production that has at its disposal a good technical crew and several known actors. Nadiya and Rao Ramesh stand out. The ‘tu tu main main’ between Rao Ramesh and Ram Charan is at first endearing, then gets annoying. Tisca Chopra makes her Telugu debut with a brief role and gets slapped by Brahmanandam.

Ram Charan dances like a dream, as always, and shows marked improvement as an actor. But what he needs is a project that will not belittle the huge fan base in the garb of masala. Also, why those twisted dance moves in every song? In the latter half, when you have almost given up on the film, there are far too many songs. The moment you spot the heroine, you shudder expecting another song.

At the end of all this, there’s solace in the form of a superb cameo by Chiranjeevi. The charisma is intact and he steals the show.

Bruce Lee

Cast: Ram Charan, Rakul Preet, Rao Ramesh

Direction: Sreenu Vaitla

Music: Thaman

Story line: An intelligence bureau officer wants a stuntman to stake everything and expose a criminal. Don’t ask why.

Bottomline: Chiranjeevi’s guest appearance is a silver lining.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 1:10:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/bruce-lee-all-that-gloss/article7770250.ece

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