'Naa Saami Ranga', produced by Srinivasaa Silver Screen, was released in theatres today (January 13). In this section, we are going to review the latest box-office release.
The story is set in 1988 and in the 1990s. In Ambaji Peta somewhere in a Godavari district, Kishtaiah (Akkineni Nagarjuna) and Anji (Allari Naresh) are all-weather childhood friends. Kishtaiah falls in love with Varaalu (Ashika Ranganath), the daughter of an usurious moneylender (Rao Ramesh). He works for Peddayya (Nassar), a generous village head. For some reason, Peddayya's sons (played by Bharath Reddy and Shabbeer) have ego tussles with Kishtaiah. This rivalry takes a violent form and results in tragedies.
Nagarjuna captures the charm and effortlessness of his character, which receives a Tollywood-ish treatment from debutant director Vijay Binni. This sort of ease was not on display in his recent films like 'The Ghost'. His 'Bangarraju' act was an exception.
Allari Naresh appears a bit over-expressive in certain scenes. Nevertheless, he holds his ground. Nassar and Raj Tarun, in their respective roles, lend weight to their characters. Ashika Ranganath is beautiful and shares lovely chemistry with Nag. As a young woman with naughty fantasies that are not played for cheap laughs, she is very good. Mirnaa Menon and Rukshar Dhillon don't get to display their voice, but the latter looks cute in traditional attire. Rao Ramesh shows his mean streak, while Harshavardhan is good in the role of a cop.
The Whistle Theme Song, nicknamed the 'Friendship Song', has MM Keeravani add rhythm to the proceedings. 'Etthukelli Povaalanipisthunde' is lilting, while the title song is boring. The stunts (Ram Laxman, Venkat, Prudhvi) lack novelty. They work to an extent because of Nag's swag and glamour. The cinematography by Shivendra Dasaradhi is in step with the genre (period action drama set in a village), but it doesn't capture the religious processions evocatively.
This official remake of the Malayalam language film 'Porinju Mariam Jose' (2019) has been packaged for the Telugu audience as a bona fide Sankranthi release. Comparisons are fraught with extreme subjectivity. In terms of the ability to engage the audience, this one is better than yesterday's release, 'Saindhav'. While both films lack novel action scenes, it was a relief to watch 'NSR' lacking the itch to stylize every fight shot and every gun battle. There is no maximization of gore, although the boring baddies do test your patience at times. The knife stabs replace modern weapons. Ambaji Peta feels okay despite lacking ambition. Whereas Chandraprastha (a fictional town) in 'Saindhav' felt dark and generic.
'Naa Saami Ranga' has been designed as an old-school film, in a self-aware way. That's why Nag was persistent that this must be a Sankranthi release. This one can't be a Summer release and surely not a December release. Some scenes involving Nag and Ashika wouldn't carry that vibe if it were a non-Sankranthi release.
This week, we have seen the superstar vehicle 'Guntur Kaaram' tire out the audience with predictable Guruji-isms and a few exasperating ideas. 'Saindhav' was exhausting as well. As against those two films, 'Naa Saami Ranga' is sorta easy on the mind despite its low-stakes action scenes.
At one level, this is a love story. At another, this is a friendship story. The writing department could have done better with both. Yet the climax is somehow good.
'Naa Saami Ranga' is not novel but it doesn't exhaust the audience. A decent family watch despite too many old-school ideas suffocating it.