Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Hindi series Rana Naidu which is now streaming on Netflix. An official adaptation of the English show Ray Donovan, the trailer of Rana Naidu did seem interesting. Moreover, I did feel that the makers did pull off a casting coup of sorts. To have Venkatesh and Rana Daggubati(they are related in real life by the way) pitted agaimst each other, did make for a mouth watering contest!
Now I haven’t watched Ray Donovan which is spanning upto 7 seasons. And so I had no idea on what Rana Naidu had to offer. Initially, I did think that this was a Telugu show(given its star cast) dubbed in Hindi, only to layer realise that this was a Hindi show with the characters being of Telugu origin. This instantly did make the show all the more interesting as there was an effort made to literally bring the two worlds together and see how the characters adapt to the surroundings. I did venture into the show Rana Naidu with a lot of hope and now that I have finished watching it, here are my two cents on the same.
Story & Screenplay
An official adaptation of the English show Ray Donovan, Rana Naidu follows the story of the protagonist who is often tasked to do a clean job and take care of any mess in the entertainment industry but cannot really resolve his own issues after his father returns after 15 years. The story is raw, edgy and unabashed in every sense of the word. In other words, the story does push the envelope as far as much of the graphic content is concerned and that for me did work really well here. The screenplay standing at 10 episodes ranging from 40 odd to 50 odd minutes each is a little too long for my liking and honestly it is some of the subplots which translated into an extended runtime. While I have no reference of the original, some of the subplots could have either been shortened or completely snipped off at the edit table for a crisper runtime.
There is a certain degree of excitement to a drama that you do not know what it is going to serve you. And here the drama does set the ball rolling in terrific style with that elaborate opening sequence which really did catch my attention. The scene did involve a cleanup activity for a cricketer that did ring in the vibe of the drama really well. You are introduced to the protagonist and his team who can best be described as the mafia for doing a cleaning job. The twist in the tale is introduced early on with the arrival of the father who is shown to be a womanizer and absolutely carefree, that brings about an interesting conflict in the life of the protagonist and his extended family.
The proceedings are interesting and engrossing from the word go. Yes, many people might be put off by the excessive cuss words and loads and loads of s*x and nudity but if you can look beyond that then there is quite an interesting tale of character dynamics that does drive the stiry consistently. To give you a very vague comparison, this tale here is Kapoor and Sons but on steroids. The reason why I have brought this film in the discussion is because like in Kapoor and Sons, there are also a host of secrets that the family of Rana Naidu are holding close to the chest. And each secret is slowly and tactfully peeled off in this rather unapologetic drama. Also the amalgamation of the two cultures is nicely depicted in the drama. Also meta references of the entertainment industry are nicely integrated in the drama.
There are multiple subplots featuring multiple characters and while most subplots are interesting and almost all of them do work on an independent basis, I just felt that the subplots were a tad too many and at times disjointed. Some of the subplots aren’t properly linked to the main ongoing plot and had they been taken off in the first place, there wouldn’t have been a significant change in the overall screenplay. That said the twists and turns in the drama are good and at times unexpected and shocking. The drama is quirky and far too unassuming. To give you a perspective, you will be chuckling at some of the proceedings while a crime is being or has been committed, that gives a nice texture to the overall drama.
The drama though does lose its grip slightly towards the end. The events leading up to the final act have a decent buildup however the final act does lack that finishing knockout punch. It did feel a tad too simplistic and it did give me an impression that the writers were running out of time to reach the conclusion and setup things for the next season. Hence, the rushed climax did not really justify the otherwise solid screenplay that the show had to offer. But overall, the screenplay is unabashed and while it may take you a while to get used to the drama, it is quite enjoyable in more ways than one.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are witty but filled with cuss words and crude humour. For many the lines can be a put off but I must say that it was consistent throughout the drama and it did not feel oddly placed anywhere. In other words, the dialogues are true to the theme of the drama. The music and BGM are splendid and add the much needed bite to the drama. The cinematography and colour grading are top notch and it did give the series a very rich look. Also, most of the intimate scenes are captured really well. The editing was good as well. Directors Karan Anshuman(who was a film critic himself years ago, well well…hint hint😅) and Suparn Verma have done a swell job in keeping the interests of the audience piqued throughout the show. I did like that they went all in with respect to the content and there were no half measures with the depiction of graphic scenes. And also a tinge of humour did compliment the proceedings which made me want to believe that the direction here was always in control and quite splendid!
The performances by the ensemble cast is outstanding. Zessica Harison and Ashmita Jaggy have their moments to shine as do Rajesh Kumar, Samarth Shandila and Madhav Dhingra. Lauren Robinson as Lara and Adithya Menon as Srini are fabulous to watch in a job well done. Tenzin Dalha as Arjun is first rate. Flora Saini as Kavya is impressive despite a limited screen time. Priya Banerjee as Mandira looks gorgeous and does a good job as well although her character was fully designed to make a solid impact on the screenplay. Ashwin Mushran as Farzad is unapologetic and unabashed and does a fine job here. Suchitra Pillai as Tara does have her moments to shine.
Ashish Vidyarthi as Surya is such a terrific actor and he is absolutely pitch perfect here. Rajesh Jais as OB is another outstanding actor and he is incredibly good here, once again. Afrah Sayed as Nitya has an incredible screen presence and I was amazed at how comfortable she was in front of the camera. Gaurav Chopra as Prince was clearly having a gala time and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance. Ishitta Arun as Anna is such a natural onscreen and I would really like to watch her more often in the future. Abhishek Banerjee as Jaffa does bring out the vulnerabilities of his character expertly in another wonderful performance. One of my favourites onscreen for a while now has been Sushant Singh. As Tej, he is wonderfully restrained in what was a sincere and an earnest performance. It was an absolute pleasure watching him onscreen.
Surveen Chawla as Naina looked just so pretty and she was phenomenal to watch here. She really needed to vent out her anger in a few scenes that those were tricky ones given how one can easily go overboard in such scenes. But she was well within herself in a nicely controlled performance. Venkatesh as Naga is probably my favourite character here. He is unaplogetic and unabashed and kudos to the casting director by zeroing in on Venkatesh. This was a completely different version that I did witness of the actor and I enjoyed his performance as much as he may have enjoyed performing here. Rana Daggubati as Rana Naidu is excellent here in a character which is stoic but has a volcano of emotions inside him. His towering presence did add a personality to the character in a sizzling outing onscreen!
Rana Naidu is raw, edgy, unapologetic and unabashed with great performances making for an interesting entertaining watch. Available on Netflix.