Telugu filmmakers follow certain templates, varying them now and then to suit the lead actor and whether they want to bill the film as a romance, family entertainer, or one that will please fan clubs. Many films try and do a bit of everything. The ingredients that go into such potpourris are predictable — a larger than life hero who beats power and money-mongering villains to pulp, is an ideal son who goes to any length to set things right in the family and of course, can shake a leg and romance at will. If the permutations and combinations of all these don’t seem enough, rope in Brahmanandam.
Rabhasa takes this predictable route and hopes NTR’s charisma will prop up a weak screenplay. Karthik (NTR) lies to his mother (Jayasudha) that he’s in the US but is actually in Hyderabad on a mission — to fulfil his mother’s wish of making her brother Dhananjay’s (Shayaji Shinde) daughter as her daughter-in-law. Dhananjay, taken to task in the past by Karthik’s father (Nasser) and shunned by the village for corruption, is now power-hungry and eyes the Mayor post.
There are cues to a secondary plot, which unfold later. NTR, who is instrumental in bringing together two lovers, is also unwittingly the reason for strife between two other families. He has to make amends, apart from winning the heart of his lady love.
The plot offers nothing new and the screenplay remains dreary for the most part. NTR puts in an energetic performance, dances well, emotes well and has good comic timing. But there’s only so much he can do to lift a monotonous screenplay. The episode where he enters a college as an ‘anti-love squad’ indulging in moral policing to impress Pranitha, to say it politely, is rather lame. In a film that tries to project its hero as someone who understands and respects women, the characterisation of the leading ladies leave a lot to be desired. Pranitha looks pretty but her ill-etched character makes her appear downright silly.
Rabhasa gathers some steam in the latter half when Brahmanandam steps in and a large number of characters are involved in a merry go round of comedy of errors, with a few twists. The villainous group that once looked menacing is now reduced to a bunch of jokers. The humour works in parts and sounds forced otherwise.
The art direction is on a ‘celebrate colour’ mode, filling the canvas with a riot of gaudy colours.
Nasser, Shayaji Shinde, Jayaprakash Reddy, Jayasudha, Seetha, Ajay and Nagineedu look disinterested in characters they’ve essayed many times before. Samantha effortlessly sails through her role. She has shown us she is capable of doing much more but of late, seems to be stuck with doing similar roles that require her to be an attractive prop.
Comedy makes the film watchable but this isn’t a project that harnesses the potential of its capable lead actors.
Cast NTR, Samantha and Brahmanandam
Direction : Santosh Srinivas
Plot line : NTR has to bring together two estranged families and win his lady love.
Bottomline : Predictable story solely relying on NTR’s charisma.