Film: “Dhruva”; Director: Surinder Reddy; Cast: Ram Charan, Arvind Swamy and Rakul Preet Singh; Rating: **
Dhruva suffers from a very esoteric cinematic disease. It’s known as the sickness of slickness. So hell-bent is it to out-slick the original Tamil film “Thani Oruvan”, that director Surinder Reddy orders his entire team to workout in the gym of their minds.
Ram Charan, of course, takes the gyming to the literal level. He tones his policeman character’s physique to an unbelievably chiselled level of sinewiness. And just to prove how serious he is about being monstrously macho with his gun and muscles, he even takes off his shirt at one point to display his abundant talent.
Policemen in real life are often unfit and potbellied. Not this one. Not this time.
Ram Charan’s performance is so physically fit that it screams for attention. Ditto the film.
“Dhruva” is a wannabe Mukul Anand film. In the 1980s, Mukul Anand redefined slick thrills in Bollywood with his Amitabh Bachchan actioners. Surinder Shetty could be the late Mukul Anand’s new avatar. I see the same fidgety restlessness in his narrative stratosphere. The same impatience to get on with the story and not allow it to be bogged down by comic and romantic relief. Rakul Preet Singh is the wallflower that Telugu cinema relegates its leading ladies to being. Think “Kabali”. Think Radhika Apte.
This is a welcome change in Telugu cinema where the main plot is weighed down by demoniacal diversions. “Dhruva” sticks to the straight and not-so-narrow path. It’s a classic cat-and-mouse chase saga about a devious scientist(Arvind Swamy) whose evil ambitions to destroy the world are thwarted by a police officer who gives nothing away from his expressions. This abundance of secrecy may seem terribly clever when dealing with a villain who is smart enough to outwit even the smartest of heroes.
But then the strong and silent hero could be the way he is because he has no other option. Throughout the pulsating proceedings, punctuated by bouts of gripping action and relentless chase, Ram Charan remains expressionless to the point of seeming like a rock that has not moved from its place for centuries. Luckily, this rock moves with the speed of lightning. Ram Charan is an action hero. He should remain that way.
To see some acting chops, we have Arvind Swamy encoring his villainous act from the original Tamil film with remarkable relish. Swamy is suave and riveting. Every time he shares a frame with Ram Charan, Swamy chews up the frames with a monster’s appetite. I almost felt sorry for Ram Charan for having chosen such a formidable adversary.
“Dhruva”, though meant to be a vehicle for Ram Charan’s comeback (his career has not seen a success for quite some time), ends up being a made-to-order vehicle for Arvind Swamy. Of course, Ram Charan will benefit from this film’s success. He has played the expressionless policeman in “Toofan” (“Zanjeer” in Hindi). He makes the khaki uniform look positively pale.
By Subhash K. Jha