Disco Raja movie review: Ravi Teja brings a lot of energy to the screen.
Disco Raja movie cast: Ravi Teja, Sunil, Bobby Simha
Disco Raja movie director: VI Anand
Disco Raja movie rating: 2.5 stars
Surprise, surprise! After a long, long time, a Ravi Teja film did not feel like a punishment. The star's latest movie Disco Raja was a shockingly pleasant viewing experience. And it is all because of filmmaker VI Anand, who adds a bit of sci-fi to a lively masala movie.
Disco Raja begins with a visually arresting sequence shot from above. The land is covered with a white blanket of snow, and on it are a group of men fully covered in black. A crime is in progress. The men in black have badly hurt a person and drag him through the snow, leaving a trail of blood on the snowy field. Soon, the person in question (of course, we already know who it is) is tied up inside a secluded house, badly wounded and left for dead. A massive snowstorm obliterates the house, and the person is frozen in a block of ice. And finally, we see the victim's face, and it is our hero, played by Ravi Teja.
The frozen body of the hero is accidentally discovered by trekkers, who hand it over to a group of ambitious scientists. The scientists take advantage of the unclaimed body and use it for their experiment. The body is kept inside a giant capsule-like container filled with some water, and he's injected with some serum. And with the help of science, the dead man is brought back to life. Yes, Disco Raja is like a watered-down version of Captain America meets Wolverine by way of a typical madcap Ravi Teja film.
VI Anand has taken these larger-than-life ideas of superheroes and delievered a watchable masala movie. This film is neither perfect nor completely trash. The movie manages to find its sweet spot and exploits it to the hilt to keep the audience entertained.
Disco Raja works because Anand has relied more on his technical team and storytelling skills, instead of solely depending on Ravi Teja's antics. It was also refreshing to see a director/writer being light on his feet, improvising and experimenting with the narrative structure without following a certain formula.
VI Anand also doesn't write something superficial. Every scene seems to foreshadow the treachery that is at play. There seems to be a clue in certain moments that makes sense during a series of revelations, towards the climax that plays out like a Mexican standoff.
Take, for example, Burma Sethu (Bobby Simha). We first see him when he is at a party celebrating his 60th birthday. And that song that is playing at the party of this Tamil gangster is "Paandinaattu Kodi", a song from the movie Jigarthanda. In the 2014 Tamil movie, Bobby had played a middle-aged, cold-blooded gangster called...Sethu. Assault Sethu. And he is introduced through a mirror shot. Maybe a hint that tells he's not a typical textbook Telugu villain. My only qualm is Anand doesn't give enough space for Sethu's emotional side and personal loss to grow on us. We don't get enough of the mad villain, who has been on a killing spree due to the burning vengeance inside him.
And even Utham Kumar (Sunil) gets a layered introduction. He appears on the screen first time wearing a mask. And it reveals a major feature of his character.
Ravi Teja brings a lot of energy to the screen. Especially, he shines in the portions set in the 1980s. Cinematographer Karthik Ghattamaneni's soothing frames and composer S. Thaman's instrumental background score boosts Disco Raja.
The flimsy sob story of a group of orphans living like a family, the obligatory heroine character Nabha (played by Nabha Natesh) and the entire set up involving Vasu (young Ravi Teja, again) is sketchy, weak and weighs down the movie.
And yet, Disco Raja is such a welcome relief for cine-goers who want to watch a Ravi Teja film without getting brain-fried.