Nene Raju Nene Mantri movie review: This Rana Daggubati film is a missed opportunity

Time & Us
Last Updated: August 12, 2017 at 1:54 am

Nene Raju Nene Mantri movie cast: Rana Daggubati, Kajal Aggarwal, Catherine Tresa
Nene Raju Nene Mantri director: Teja
Nene Raju Nene Mantri stars: 2 stars
In Nene Raju Nene Mantri, Radha Jogendra (Rana Daggubati) is introduced as a death row convict, whose last wish is to televise his life story. So, it begins, the story of an unambitious money lender, whose world revolves only around his beautiful wife Radha (Kajal Aggarwal).
Jogendra is a smart and cunning businessman. He is harmless until his wife is happy. But, if someone causes inconvenience to his wife, he or she must die. And he makes sure of it. Even it means playing the long game. Kajal suffers an abortion after her village Sarpanch’s wife pushes her down the stairs for lighting a lamp at a temple. It seems that lighting that lamp is a special privilege only enjoyed by Sarpanch’s wife. Now, one would expect Jogendra to lose his cool and storm the house of his village Sarpanch, played by Pradeep Rawat. But, instead, he decides to become a Sarpanch himself so that no one can stop his wife from lighting lamps at the temples. Thus, begins Jogendra’s tryst with politics.
After becoming sarpanch, Jogendra takes out the MLA of his constituency and assumes his office. He later replaces the home minister with the silliest plot that one could come up with. And now he aims for the chief ministership. Ask him, why is he doing all this? He will say that he’s doing it for Radha.
Jogendra began to play the power game in the politics to avenge his unborn child and for Radha. But, his actions that followed were purely out of his own ambition and greed. Jogendra’s justification that “Everything I did, I did for the family” (Radha) reminds me of Breaking Bad’s Walter White. A chemistry teacher with cancer begins to produce drugs to make just sufficient money so that his family can take care of themselves when he’s gone. But, he loses the way in the process. He does some horrible things for the sake of his family. But, eventually, he confesses to his wife that “All the things I did. I did it for me. I liked it.” The film lacking such a moment of truth, where Jogendra realises himself, leaves a big void in the story.
Kajal Aggarwal has delivered a convincing performance in the given role. While Catherine Tresa as Devika Rani, an owner of a news channel, is not explored to her full potential. Her role is meant to add scandal to this political drama. But, again Teja’s reservations has kept him from taking that character to a logical end.
It was very evident that Rana’s character was not an ideal hero, who could never make a mistake. The audience knew that Jogendra was morally corrupt and he was ready to do wrong things to get what he wants. So, we expect him to up the ante in being the ‘bad guy’ and surprise us by doing some shocking things. But, director Teja, for some reasons, has not gone all the way in exploring the possibilities of things a character like Jogendra, who is drunk on power, greed and arrogance, could do.
Teja rather tries to sort of justify all the wrong actions of Jogendra. And blames the corrupt system of the country for all his crimes. It seems like Teja sort of lost his vision for Jogendra’s character. The film suffers from the director’s reservations to show what Jogendra really is, a power-hungry monster. He hurts his wife by sleeping with some other woman. He kills his close confidante, who saved his life multiple times, without even giving him a chance to explain his story. He kills cops. He murders anyone who stands in his way. He blows up a building full of politicians. And eventually, he is portrayed as people’s man.
The viewers who heard his life story on television are now convinced that he is the right person for the Chief Minister’s chair and wants the President to pardon him for killing the MLAs. Teja’s attempt to underplay the gravity of crimes Jogendra committed leads to a cringe-worthy climax and leaves the audience confused as to what the director was trying to establish.