Rama Rao on Duty review: Ravi Teja’s latest fails to deliver the thrills it promised

The slow pace of the movie without a gripping screenplay proves to be its biggest drawback.
Still from Rama Rao On Duty
Still from Rama Rao On Duty

Dark clouds have enveloped the sky and it is raining heavily in a jungle surrounded by hills. There is only a small hut in this mysterious place. The rain water washes away the soil and a hand appears. A suspicious old man who realises that the body was not buried properly takes an axe from his house and proceeds to chop the hand. It is with this promising premise that the Ravi Teja-starrer Rama Rao On Duty begins. But if you are curious to know about the mystery behind the above mentioned event, too bad, you will have to wait till the end of the film, that is, if you are still interested.  

Rama Rao On Duty stars actors Ravi Teja, Divyanksha Kaushik, Rajisha Vijayan, Venu Thottempudi, Nasser, John Vijay, and others. The film was promoted as a thriller. The film unit went to the extent of urging fans and other spoilsports against revealing the twists immediately after viewing the film. However, having watched the film I am not too sure if it merits to be a thriller as the director doesn’t offer any thrills to the audience.  

Actor Ravi Teja (Rama Rao) is an honest sub-collector, who does not tolerate corruption in his office. He does not flinch before resorting to violence to ensure that his office is functioning without succumbing to any pressure. He is a ‘farmer-friendly’ and ‘pro-poor’ officer. And he makes sure that this image effectively reaches the people. He is like a politician in the making, who markets this image well, keeping his political aspirations in mind. The opening song, a tribute to him, with montages of him interacting with poor people, grabbing their lunch and eating it in a field while they are in awe of him, looks like an awful political campaign. Besides being an honest officer, he is also a shrewd man who uses these abilities for the welfare of underprivileged persons. A quarter of the film’s duration is spent on establishing the character of this honest sub-collector.

Nevertheless, because of his deeds, he gets transferred to his native village in Chittoor district as Deputy Collector and in-charge Mandal Revenue Officer. Unfortunately, the district does not have many problems for him to exhibit his prowess. But the disappearance of a man in the village, who happens to be the husband of his ex-girlfriend, leads him to a big mystery — 20 persons have been missing under similar circumstances. As the local Inspector (Venu Thottempudi) is a crook, Rama Rao takes upon himself to investigate these mysterious disappearances. While this investigation should have aroused some curiosity and kept the audience on the edge of their seats, the boring narration and the convenient help which he keeps getting from his friends who happen to work in the departments which could aid in the investigation, ensures that all your interest in the case has died.

Without sticking to the case, the plot also keeps meandering with several irrelevant scenes — an attempt to cover the audience of all groups. Add to this the mandate of having songs which interrupt the flow of the movie and it does not help the film’s case. The slow pace without a gripping screenplay proves to be the film’s biggest drawback.  

The audience is also not given any clues which would have made them rack their brains and kept them engaged until the case is solved. 

Rama Rao On Duty is loosely inspired by the event of 20 woodcutters from Tamil Nadu who were brutally killed in 2015 by the police in Seshachalam Forest at Tirumala Hills for their involvement in smuggling red sanders. However, Rama Rao on Duty is based in 1995, which seems to be something we should just take at face value. Except for a few billboards and old film posters which remind the audience about this, the art direction and costume department fail terribly in making it seem like the authentic mid ‘90s.

Director Sarath Mandava’s inexperience in direction and writing the screenplay is also evident throughout. The writer-director fails at getting the right proportion of commercial moments to satisfy Ravi Teja’s fans and also does not do justice to the thriller genre. The result is a boring narration with an incoherent story that does not take off until it almost reaches the climax.

The lacklustre performances of the artists, including Ravi Teja’s, is one of the many flaws in the film. The talented Rajisha Vijayan, who gave an impressive performance in Tamil film Karnan and Malayalam film June, is wasted. The other female lead Divyanksha is not given a substantial role. She is merely like a junior artist in the background and seems miscast. To (unsuccessfully) compensate for this, she is given a song in a foreign location.

Actor Venu, who is making a comeback into films after many years has an important role in the film. As an insincere and foolish police officer, he is funny initially. But the character soon loses charm because of the repetitive lines. The poor lip-sync also makes the performance jarring.  

Overall, Rama Rao On Duty is a glorious misfire and a superficial attempt with plenty of loopholes that leave you dissatisfied.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.


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