Ravi Teja is probably one of the most entertaining actors in Indian Cinema and I can say this with a fair degree of conviction. What’s remarkable about him is the progress he has undertaken over the last 25 years or so that he has been in the Telugu film industry. Starting off as a character artiste, playing small characters in numerous films, while also being an assistant director it took him nearly a decade to graduate to and get accepted as the leading man. For someone who came into the industry without any Godfather his ascent to stardom has indeed been commendable, especially considering that unlike him nearly all the top actors in Telugu Cinema hail from a film family. Over the years Ravi Teja has strongly built up a fanbase, people who like him for his casual yet powerful dialogue delivery style, his terrific comic timing and overall for being a true entertainer. No wonder that he went on to earn the title “Mass Maharaja” with which he is being referred to of late. But in all his over enthusiasm to keep the audience entertained he has been doing a spate of formula films, with his track record at the box office going for a toss very often.
Director Sampath Nandi hasn’t had a release post his second film, Racha (2012). Ravi Teja on the other hand has been having a topsy- turvy time of late, after delivering a spate of flops he had more or less bounced back with Balupu (2013) and to an extent Power (2014), but then the highly anticipated Kick 2 which came out earlier this year turned out to be a colossal disappointment. Sampath Nandi and Ravi Teja have teamed up for the first time in Bengal Tiger, this week’s big Telugu release. There were quite a few questions that I had on my mind as I set out to watch the film on the very first day of release. So does Bengal Tiger make it a third successive hit for Sampath Nandi (after Ye Emaindi Ee Vela and Racha)? Would the film go on to be a turnaround for Ravi Teja and would it be the ideal family entertainer that audiences can look forward to this weekend?
Bengal Tiger revolves around Akash Narayan (Ravi Teja), a care free guy who enjoys around with his friends in his village. Forced by his family Akash goes on to see a girl (Aksha Pardasany) for a marriage alliance but she rejects him as she wants to marry a celebrity. Akash then decides to get famous, throwing a stone at a minister (Sayaji Shinde) during a speech in his village, getting to then work with the minister himself, before quickly going on to become the trusted aide of the Home Minister (Rao Ramesh). In the process the minister’s daughter Shradha (Rashi Khanna) falls in love with Akash. Everything seems to be going good and the minister announces that Shradha would be getting married to Akash during her birthday party. That’s when Akash catches everyone off guard by saying that he is in love with Meera (Tamannaah), the daughter of the Chief Minister Ashok Gajapathi (Boman Irani).
Needless to say all hell breaks loose and the rest of the film is all about what Akash is really up to and how he is linked to Ashok Gajapathi, in the process we get to know the significance of the title as well 🙂 . The film is a typical formulaic entertainer all the way, as most Ravi Teja films are, with punch dialogues, fights, songs, two heroines, comedy etc. all thrown in. Despite quite a flimsy plot Sampath Nandi’s writing ensures that the first half is pretty lively, keeping us entertained thanks to Ravi Teja’s energy and the comedy track which involves Akash along with Celebrity Shastri (Posani Krishna Murali) and the wannabe actor “Future Star” Siddappa (Prudhviraj). While the interval point keeps you hoping for an equally entertaining second half, what we get instead is a routine, predictable backstory. It looks like Sampath Nandi was happy giving us a rollicking first half, thereby not bothering much about the rest of the tale.
In fact I wouldn’t really be wrong if I say that you could safely leave the hall during the intermission point in case you need to make that urgent phone call or two and finish off pending matters,only to come back and predict whatever has happened till then quite correctly. That shows you how much thought has gone into conceptualizing the second half of the film,it almost runs on auto pilot of sorts. I wouldn’t want to discuss cliches because it would be a futile exercise and one can always say that it would be expected in a mass masala film like Bengal Tiger. The fight in the wet mud has been shot well, the black and gloomy background has been captured well by DOP Soundararajan, just that you are already quite exhausted overall to appreciate it much 🙂 .
The songs composed by Bheems Cecireleo are strictly functional and not something that one might remember a few weeks later.Thankfully the film is not based in Kolkata unlike a lot of Telugu masala films of late and that’s a relief of sorts especially given a title like Bengal Tiger.vBoman Irani is a bad choice for the role of the villain, there is hardly any balance between him and Ravi Teja. Its unfortunate to see the talented Brahmanandam getting wasted in films these days and Bengal Tiger is no exception.Rao Ramesh and Sayji Shinde are functional while Posani and Prudhviraj are effective, especially the latter. Of the leading ladies strangely Tamannaah has hardly any screen time; Rashi Khanna thankfully has a much better presence in the film and looks pretty. For Ravi Teja it is a cakewalk of a role, except for the fact that he looks a little old in certain scenes he still carries of the film on his shoulders quite comfortably.
Bengal Tiger wasn’t a film that was anyways meant to be a trail blazer,but it is a good example of a film which with some prodding could have turned out to be a complete entertainer. What we get instead is something that works partially only though. But Ravi Teja’s charisma eventually prevents the film from being a complete disaster, making the first half in particular quite entertaining. If only Sampath Nandi had maintained the momentum right till the end, the end result could have been so much better.