Producer: D Suresh Babu and Kalaippili S Dhanu
Director: Srikanth Addala
Cast: Venkatesh, Priyamani, Rajasekhar Aningi, Rao Ramesh, Rajiv Kanakala and Nasser
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
By Jyothi Venkatesh
At the outset, let me tell you that it is not a new story but the Telugu remake of the Tamil hit Asuran starring Dhanush which fetched Dhanush the Best National Actor award two years ago. It in turn was an adaptation of Poomani’s novel Vekkai. Narappa bears the weight of director Srikanth Addala retelling an already successful story pulled off by Vetrimaaran in Tamil. It also releases just a few days after the 36th anniversary of the Karamchedu massacre which saw six dalits killed, three dalit women raped and many displaced by the overlords in the village on July 17. Just like in the massacre that remains fresh on people’s minds, a chain of events lead to bloodshed, tears and pain in the film.
The film revolves around Narappa (Venkatesh Daggubati) an ageing alcoholic farmer who prefers to follow Gandhi’s policy of turning the other cheek for yet another stinging slap rather than fight back and stand up to the oppression he faces in the village. Unwittingly, his two hot-headed sons Munikanna (Karthik Ratnam) and Sinappa (Rakhi) get involved in this fight. In what transpires as a takeoff from Rahinikant’s Tamil film Baasha, Narappa also has buried a painful past and taken refuge in the village where he resides now with his wife and two sons.
However, the same fate awaits him in the new village too in the form of a rich landlord Pandusami (Aadukalam Naren) who wants to grab Narappa’s three-acres of land to set up a cement factory despite already owning most of the land in the village. When Narappa’s eldest son Munikanna, egged on by his uncle Basavayya (Rajeev Kanakala) and mother Sundaramma (Priyamani), refuses to put up with the caste disparity in the village, he sets off a chain of events that see his father fight to save the family.
The film in spite of the fact that it is a remake of a Tamil hit truly engages you from the first frame till the last, particularly when you realize that it is a revelation that Venkatesh can invest his complex role as an elderly man with all the right nuances and characteristics that a dimension of this sort requires him to pull off with effortless ease as an actor.
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Mention must certainly be made of Venkatesh’s gait and other body language and voice intonation and modulation to suit his elderly character to the T.Priyamani as his wife Sundaramma proves that if given the right role, she is easily in a position to show that she can be a bundle of talent instead of just being a glamorous heroine. Nasser’s character defies logic and as an actor he just performs what the role required him to portray.
To sum up, the film Narappa works in parts as a dark and gripping drama and what’s more is engaging and appealing. This in spite of the fact that its storyline is old and predictable, especially since the performances of the main actors and the overpowering emotional trail make the film a decent watch, thanks to Srikant Addala’s direction which keeps you glued to your seats though editing leaves a lot to be desired as the film needs to be edited slickly to make it less disturbing and more palatable.