‘UA’ Certified, 2 hrs 09 mins
What Is the Film About?
The parents of Raju (Chetan Maddineni) want him to be a first ranker devoid of any general knowledge. They want him to be 100 percent book accurate and know nothing else. All this is done with the assumption that Raju would bag a high salaried job in an MNC. What happens when Raju gets rejected by the MD is what the film is all about?
How Is Chetan’s Performance?
Chetan Maddineni is a non-actor. But, he has innocence in looks and voice that suits the character of Raju perfectly. It helps the proceedings of the first half a lot thanks to his geeky looks. It is not known whether it is intentional or not, but the whole get up and act in the first half is modelled around Chatur role from the celebrated classic 3 Idiots.
However, beyond the immediate role of Raju and the movie’s universe, Chetan doesn’t look like holding any appeal as he is bland and has zero screen presence. The dialogue delivery is awful, and the eyes have a dead quality to them.
Direction by Naresh?
Not many might be aware, but 1st Rank Raju is a remake of the film of the same name from Kannada. Also, Naresh Kumar HN, who directed the original is behind the remake as well.
Coming to the film, it is a done to death theme involving the student’s life and how they are forced to be muggers and studious without having any general knowledge. The movie takes the idea to its extremes in both the halves. In the first half, it is all about studies and nothing else, no emotions. How it effects, the person is shown in an over the top manner with lots of double meaning dialogues to provide entertainment in the process.
The second half is the exact opposite where the first rank student becomes a backbencher and does all the wrong activities. It is shown as if these deeds are what the makes the student life enjoyable and that everyone should follow it to be successful. It is, therefore, a wrong representation, although part of it is right. This complete contrast to driving home the point regarding studies is both the strength and weakness of the movie. The former is because of the clarity of message, and the latter is due to the sheer predictability on offer.
The climax takes a serious turn entirely, but the acting looks so out of place. Again, everything looks staged only to put across the message. Now, if only the writing and the actor had some energy to take things a notch higher, the impact would have been felt.
Overall, First Rank Raju has entertainment (with lots of double entendres) and an honest message, but weak lead and predictable writing don’t let it have the desired impact. It is a strict viewing option for those who enjoy teen flicks with silly humour and a predictable but neat message at the end.
Kashish Vohra and Others?
Kashish Vohra has a decent role in the movie in the first half. She provides the colour in the back and white life of the lead and looks apt for the part. She puts up a sincere act and makes her emotions believable. But, the real hero of the movie is senior actor Naresh playing the father of lead character. It is his role that dominates the proceedings and decides its course. Naresh goes over the top with his act, but he makes it work nonetheless. For another vital role, Prakash Raj is roped in, and he does justice to it with a settled, short and impactful act. Rao Ramesh comes at the end and makes his presence felt. Priyadarshi and friends gang have few moments to themselves which they work in parts.
Music and Other Departments?
Even the music director from the original Kannada flick, Kiran Ravindranath is reused here. He has done a decent work with the background score, but the songs are speed-breakers mostly. The cinematography is not up to the mark, and the editing is alright. The entertaining bits of the writing work for the most part, but they lack freshness.
Lack of Emotional Connect
Writing At Serious Parts
Watch 3 Idiots, the mother of all movies which aim to deliver the same message.
Did I Enjoy It?
Yes in parts
Will You Recommend It?
Yes but with huge reservations.
First Rank Raju Review by Siddartha Toleti