RED (2021) Review & Rating
Ram Pothineni Red Review: A Misfired Missile
Among all the Telugu films that rejected the OTT offers during the lockdown, Red the film starring Energetic Star Ram Pothineni is the prominent film. Ram has been staunchly against releasing the project he has done putting in his heart and soul into - to release non-theatrically. Now, as Tollywood has taken to theatres quite successfully post the reopening of cinema halls, the anticipation on this thriller is high.
As such the advanced bookings for the film and pre-release buzz are great. But that’s not what matters in the end. The official Telugu remake of the highly acclaimed Tamil thriller Thadam needs to punch above its weight as many times remaking highly rated thrillers is a risky proposition. The problem arises when the makers start to take a decision whether to make changes to suit the nativity or just take the original point and spin a new tale around it.
The first one needs a deep understanding of storytelling dynamics. And the second one needs creativity and a grip on the genre. There is no doubt that the director Kishore Tirumala is a talented filmmaker among the younger lot. His last few films are considerably successful at the box office too. But this is an entirely different genre. His previous movies are all simple feel good movies with mostly love stories as backdrop. Now, Red is a different monster. Not just a change of genre. But a genre that needs utmost care in handling.
Let’s see how Ram and Kishore Tirumala recreate their magic after Nenu Shailaja.
It is very safe to assume least 50% of the target audience have already watched the original Tamil film in these days of online streaming. Especially thrillers - good ones at that were in hot demand during lockdown. So, changes must be made and new thrill factors must be added. Is Kishore Tirumala up to the challenge?
Aditya is a thief and conman, and his sidekick is not a typical one who’s mostly used for comic relief. He has his own mind and agenda. Aditya Leads his life as a conman rather carefree but such life is no bed of roses for long and he is now in trouble. He needs to pay a huge debt to a dreaded gangster. To clear that off, he indulges himself in a bigger crime and unfortunately it goes wrong.
Surprisingly, it is not Aaditya who’s in bigger trouble but Siddharth - a lookalike of Aditya who gets arrested. The police officer who handles the case - played with routine expressions and all by Sampath Raj - has only two days to nab the criminals behind a murder. The murder obviously has relation to the crime Aditya indulged himself in. But as Aditya escapes, and the policeman has a personal grudge on Siddharth, Siddharth gets arrested and all he’ll breaks loose for him.
A word on Siddharth. He’s a software engineer who leads a normal life with a lover and all (like any self-respecting employed youth and being a Tollywood hero). Inspector Yamini takes up the investigation to find the real culprit. How the crime(s) are solved and if Siddharth comes out of trouble form the rest of the story. We’ll also find what sort of a guy is Aditya in the meantime.
Ram Pothineni has played a dual role for the first time. While one of the two roles is a typical Ram style youngster from his previous movies, the other is an extension of his iSmart Shankar self from the blockbuster of the same name. Looks wise he nailed both roles but failed to create the same intrigue as Siddharth. He seems to have relished the massy Aditya role, he has given his best there. But his image and iSmart baggage including his on-screen creds as Ustaad Ram Pothineni came as a big hurdle in doing this film.
Vidya Pradeep who played the police inspector who takes up the investigation was so good in the original. We cannot say the same with Nivetha Pethuraj in Telugu. While Vidya’s role was mostly rooted in reality and the problems are portrayed in a grounded manner, the same in the case of Nivetha are cinematic and in a way she’s objectified to an extent. If you think she’s miscast in the role, the fault lies with the changes made for Telugu. And to the screenwriters.
Malavika Sharma has nothing much to do in the film. Amrita Aiyer is okay. Rest of the senior cast who are there as props to give a grand feel to the screen. Satya and others like Vennela Kishore are good. Vennela Kishore evokes a few laughs in a few scenes. Posani is okay in the role but in such a serious film he’s irritating.
Writing and direction
The writing of the movie is the weak-link. The narration starts slowly in a typical Telugu romantic comedy rather than a thriller that borders on neo-noir genre. So, we will get a feeling of watching two separate films alternatively. The main plot point comes only later in the movie. That makes about an hour from the beginning a tedious watch. The screenplay is equally average. There aren’t many rousing scenes we expect from such thrillers. A thriller sans thrilling elements. The dialogues are pretty ordinary.
The music by Mani Sharma are good and lends energy to the film. There are two songs especially (the item number includes) work well. Mani once again proves he’s a master of background score. But there aren’t many sparkling moments to pick out as the narration itself is below par. The cinematography is superb. Sameer Reddy has done a neat job with the camera. The editing is decent but runtime could have been reduced. The production design is fine. But the atmosphere created isn’t staple for the genre. Production values are uncompromising.
Red is a wrong step for Ram after iSmart Shankar. Had he acted in this film before iSmart Shankar with another director, it’d have turned out to be a defining film in his career. Those who have watched the original would be disappointed. Others can give it a try in free time.
Rating: 2.25 out of 5