Telugu movies are being remade in many other languages these days, noted for their commercial value and box office merit. It is unusual for a non Telugu movie being remade into Telugu. First Rank Raju, which is an official Kannada remake of the movie of the same name is one such movie. In the Kannada version, Gurunandan played the role of a studious guy who revels in bookish knowledge and does not have any other sentiments, including love, friendship, etc. The Telugu version, a Chetan Maddineni starrer, is a laughter riot, which stands on the merit of original screenplay by Naresh Kumar H.N. Most of the movie plays on the naivete of Raju and his tryst with realities of life.
Cast: Chetan Maddineni, Kashish Vohra, Prakash Raj, Naresh and Vennela Kishore
Direction: Naresh Kumar H.N.
Music: Kiran Ravindranath
Raju (Chetan Maddineni) is brought up in a way which says ‘bookish knowledge is better than world knowledge,’ by his first rank obsessed parents, mostly his father (Naresh.) One day, Raju is taken to an astrologer, who professes Raju would be a dud in studies and will be a failure in life. To prove the prophecy wrong, Raju’s father instills in him a passion and a madness for securing the first rank in any exam or event he takes part in the school.
Raju lives up to his parents’ wishes and secures the top spot in academics from then. However, the fact is, he is too immersed into his bookish knowledge, he does not know how to do even small daily chores like bringing grocery or simple housekeeping. His innocence attracts Sruthi (Kashish Vohra) to him in the college, but his misgivings in understanding her love make him spurn her love.
Raju attends an interview, in campus selection division, on the verge of his completion of engineering course. He gets rejected by the MNC (multi national corporation,) which rejects him despite him performing successfully in the interview and answering well. His father is aghast by the boy’s failure for the first time and argues with the MNC owner (Prakash Raj,) who explains the lacunae of Raju as his bookish knowledge and lack of communication. This makes Raju realise his misgivings and he starts his life afresh by mending his ways and expanding his horizons. How does he do this? The next phase of First Rank Raju explores this aspect.
Naresh Kumar H.N. is a master storyteller. He fills his screenplay with lighter moments in between, so that the audience does not feel the lag in any part of the movie. Chetan Maddineni ably plays the role of a bookish student to the demands of the director His interactions with Vennela Kishore are hilarious. The sequences where Raju interacts with Sruthi (Kashish Vohara,) the girl who loves him, are a testimony to Raju’s unreceptiveness and naive behavior.
Naresh and Prakash Raj are veterans who do their part perfectly as the father and the MNC owner respectively. The background score by Kiran Ravindranath provides just the right amount of backup for the comedy genre.
First Rank Raju is worth a watch, go for it this weekend!