What’s it about?
Setting: 1980s. When the film opens, we see Narappa (Venkatesh) and his teenage son are on the run. They are from a village in Ramasagaram in the Ananthapuram district. They flee into the forest. Why?
Narappa’s elder son Munikanna (Karthik Ratnam) beats village landlord Panduswami (Naren) due to row about their farmland. Feeling humiliated by a low-caste persona, the feudal lord Panduswami brutally kills Munikanna in retaliation.
Narappa’s wife Sundaramma (Priya Mani) is devastated by her elder son’s brutal murder. Seeing her mother’s condition and his father Narappa’s ‘weak’ nature, Sinnappa kills Panduswami. Thus, Narappa embarks on a long journey to protect his son Sinnappa. But will Panduswami’s men keep quiet?
Due to some tragic incidents in his life in his younger days, Narappa left the path of violence and now tries to save Sinnappa from going to jail. But he has many hurdles to face.
‘Narappa’ is the first major Telugu film to have been released on a streaming platform directly this year. A remake of the Tamil movie ‘Asuran’, it is streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The Telugu remake transposes Vetrimaran’s rooted Tamilnadu story (said to be based on a Tamil novel) to the milieu of Rayalaseema and follows the original faithfully.
The central character in this story is Narappa, played by Venkatesh.
The story begins halfway. A lot had already happened before we witness Narappa and his son wafting through the lake. By plot device has worked well, as it manages to sustain the tension and suspense. The main story unravels through flashbacks.
Narappa doesn’t react even when he was humiliated. His family members chide him for being weak. The ghastly murder of his elder son and the gut-wrenching aftermath incidents don’t make him go for vengeance. He focuses on only protecting his younger son. Only at the interval, we see the other side of Narappa, the fierce and violent. The drama reaches the crescendo.
Post-interval, we see the backstory of Narappa, and the main theme of the film also comes through. At one point, Narappa says, “Vengeance is better nipped than the fostered.”
The message is strong, the plot is solid. Vetrimaaran’s original film has all this foundation. Director Sreekanth Addala has not changed the story or screenplay a bit. He almost tried to recreate the same. But he has not entirely achieved it recreating the magic of the original. The post-interval scenes have killed the joy of the riveting first half. It is not to say that the second half is bad, but it lacks effectiveness.
Forget about comparing it with the Tamil movie, even some scenes are narrated in a flat way. Example: the younger Narappa’s scenes with Ammu Abhirami. This episode required better handling, better emotional heft.
Coming to the performances, Venkatesh takes away the honors. Venkatesh’s performance as Narappa, who has become wiser and shun the violence, is top-notch. Except for 30 minutes in the second half, Venkatesh appears as an aged Narappa. From diction to body language, Venkatesh seems to have put in a lot of effort. His Rayalaseema accent is also good. Dhanush won the national award for his performance in this role. Venkatesh has equally played the role with conviction.
However, when he appears as his younger self, the film goes off the mark. Director Sreekanth Addala should have taken care of Venkatesh’s attire in this portion. He looks like an odd man out in this entire setup.
Priyamani as his wife, Karthik Rathnam as the elder son, and Raakhi as Sinnappa have also played their roles with ease. But Priyamani’s accent is jarring. Newcomer Raakhi is quite impressive. Rao Ramesh and Rajiv Kanakala play pivotal roles with ease.
Technically, there is nothing much to talk about exception the realistic action stunts. The cameraman and music director have also recreated the original movie’s style.
Director Sreekanth Addala’s dialogue writing is neat. His direction is a mixed bag.
Bottom-line: ‘Narappa’, the remake of the Tamil movie ‘Asuran’, follows the original movie scene to scene. The theme and plot of ‘Asuran’ are so strong. Sreekanth Addala misses the beat of the original film at many places in the second half. Noteworthy performance from Venkatesh as the older Narappa make up for it.
Cast: Venkatesh, Priya Mani, Karthik Ratnam, Rao Ramesh, Rajeev Kanakala
Music: Mani Sharma
Cinematography: Shyam K Naidu
Produced by: D Suresh Babu, Kalaipuli S Thanu
Directed by: Sreekanth Addala
Streaming on: Amazon Prime
Release Date: July 20, 2021