I would have gladly sat through "Dhruva" even if had been downright terrible, only because Arvind Swami was re-enacting his role as Siddharth Abhimanyu in it. One can never have enough of the nonchalant, classy villain from the original "Thani Oruvan".
But happily, "Dhruva" is not just a well-made film, it might even be better than the Tamil thriller that floored everyone with its intelligent plot and oh, did I mention Arvind Swami?
The plot is more or less the same: Dhruva (Ram Charan) is an IPS officer obsessed with hunting down criminals and drawing connections between kingpins. There's some mumbo jumbo about a pharma company conspiracy thrown in as it was in "Thani Oruvan" - this is an aspect that I wish filmmakers would think about a little more.
Science is fascinating and when done well, it has the potential to elevate the script to another plane. But as in most Indian films, "Dhruva" too dumbs it down to a wonder drug story that we're supposed to buy.
That quibble aside, "Dhruva" not only holds up the intrigue and join-the-dots game that the original encouraged the audience to play, it manages to surpass it by a few notches.
The Telugu film is slicker, tighter, and looks better. Even though Ram Charan's wooden expressions do not match up to Jayam Ravi's acting skills, the film still works.
Ram has worked hard on his body (were steroids involved?) and the camera doesn't let us forget that. Dhruva takes off his shirt enough number of times for the audience to appreciate all the effort and well, who's complaining?
Rakul Preet Singh makes for a vivacious heroine and if memory serves me right, her character is a tad better written than Nayantara's was in "Thani Oruvan". It's less of a let's copy-paste the heroine in these scenes, and more organic.
Arvind Swami is brutal, ruthless, funny, and entertaining all at once. Whether it's the scene when he lovingly calls his father (Posani) an imbecile or nearly commits the murder of a loved one, he's incredibly convincing.
For those of us who've grown up watching the rosy-cheeked hero firmly standing on the side of virtue, this twisted villain with twinkling eyes is a delightful surprise. The film belongs to him as did "Thani Oruvan".
Director Surender Reddy has done well to chop that rather annoying scene from "Thani Oruvan" in which the heroine and her friends are given a little lecture by the hero on what "women's freedom" actually is. There's a scene that comes close to that in "Dhruva" but thankfully, Reddy hasn't made Ram Charan do the mansplaining.
Hiphop Tamizha who composed the soundtrack for the Tamil film has done it for the Telugu one too and the score is just right to complement the taut script.
Remakes generally tend to disappoint, especially if the original was one that you enjoyed, but "Dhruva" manages to find the goalpost effortlessly and in style.