Know your enemies and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster- Sun Tzu
I am reminded of this quote after watching Surender Reddy’s latest Telugu film Dhruva and not just because the film actually even refers to the quote in its own way. I have always believed that a real hero, a formidable one whom we can look up to is someone who has been really tested by an adversary worthy enough of his/her calibre. And this definitely applies to a hero in an action film, remove the antagonist or make him/her weak or not so worthy and there’s nothing so unique in having a dashing hero, even if the person is larger than life. Take any action film as an example and try to apply this principle, leaving aside exceptions I am sure majority of the films which really worked and stayed put in your minds definitely had a powerful antagonist as well.
Mohan Raja surprised one and all last year with the Tamil film, Thani Oruvan. Known for usually doing good remakes of successful Tamil films this time he went in for an original subject and showed that there’s probably more to him than just the tag of remake king. While it was no surprise that the film featured his younger brother and frequent collaborator, Jayam Ravi, what made it even more interesting was that it was not a solo hero act in the film in the conventional sense. And while one might probably look at Siddharth Abhimanyu (Arvind Swamy) as the villain of the film, for me he was the actual hero of the film :). And no it’s not really a comparison between the actors that I’m trying to bring about, which is something I can confidently declare. With Dhruva now having released and also with the kind of wonderful start it is off to at the box office, it’s only time that I went on to elaborate a little more on this aspect.
In case you haven’t watched Thani Oruvan or just cannot recall it properly, then here’s the plot of Dhruva in brief. Dhruva (Ram Charan) is a dashing and dynamic cop who decides to fight an adversary worthy of him even as he goes about finishing his IPS training. Posted in the city of Hyderabad, Dhruva narrows down upon Siddharth Abhimanyu (Arvind Swamy repeating his successful role) as his adversary. Siddharth is everything that Dhruva is not and they make an interesting pair in contrast. While Dhruva is an orphan with a single handed aim of becoming a top and eliminating crime, Siddharth is a smart individual who did not think twice before taking up a murder rap on his head even as a teenager. In the process ensuring that his father (Posani Krishna Murali) goes on to become a big politician, while Siddharth is the brain behind him as he himself transforms into a successful scientist and businessman. The film is all about the cat and mouse game between Dhruva and Siddharth, as they fight for supremacy.
Surender Reddy is known for making slick entertainers and his films have generally connected with the audience, of course with his previous film Kick 2 being a notable exception. Here he has the benefit of having an already successful material on hand, so the challenge was only to ensure that it is packaged equally well if not better in Telugu and not to dilute the impact that the original film had managed to generate. And I must say that the attempt by Surender Reddy has been more or less commendable, the essence of the original has not been tampered with. There are no new characters, no unnecessary comedy track or item numbers in a bid to go all out to please the Telugu audience. The focus remains on the conflict between Dhruva and Siddarth and this is easily the reason why the film remains riveting for most part of its duration. There are very few changes compared to the original that is visible in the narrative here and none of them really stand out per se.
Despite the run time of 165 minutes you do not really feel the duration to be a botheration as the film moves at a good pace and it is engaging from the start to the end. Credit for the same goes to the editor Navin Nooli as well as Surender Reddy. P.S.Vinod’s cinematography plays a major role in ensuring that the film has a slick and glossy look, very essential for a film like this. Hiphop Tamizha who had composed the songs in Thani Oruvan is also the music composer for Dhruva and he has done an adequate job. There are a lot of interesting moments in the film and if you haven’t watched the original then they would certainly appeal to you all the more. Despite being a battle for supremacy between Dhruva and Siddharth and with both of them talking about the other entity a lot, there are just a few scenes in which both the characters feature in together and that is something which makes the tale appeal even more.
There is a near obsession with which both Dhruva and Siddharth go about while facing their adversary. Both of them being good at strategizing, it doesn’t take much time for them to realize that they have perhaps met their match in each other. While Ishika (Rakul Preet Singh) does not have significant screen time in the film, she is clearly seen as someone who backs Dhruva earnestly in his endeavour. And it’s not often that one gets to see a female lead depicted playing something interesting such as a forensic expert in a film, kudos to Mohan Raja for the portrayal in the original film and to Surender Reddy for retaining the element intact in Dhruva as well. Rakul Preet is quite adequate over here though one does miss the presence of Nayantara who played the similar character in Thani Oruvan. In terms of the supporting cast definitely the original scores in terms of having a much better set of actors. Except for Nassar who plays the Chief Minister in both the films, none of the other supporting cast members here turn out to be all that memorable.
This brings us to Ram Charan and Arvind Swamy who play Dhruva and Siddharth Abhimanyu, in a way both being two different sides of the same coin. Looked at from a different angle one can even consider Siddarth to be a hero or an antihero of sorts, and in any case he is the more dashing of the two characters. That is why I had made a mention of him being the actual hero of the film; however that is not to take away anything from Dhruva/Ram Charan. Dhruva is a film which sees Ram Charan look confident as the brave cop and he looks quite comfortable playing the character. With this film he can confidently forget the debacle that he faced with his previous film, Bruce Lee. It is not easy to repeat the same role/character in more than one film, especially if it’s a role of paramount importance to the film. While there is familiarity that comes in, it also brings in fatigue factor and a feeling of complacency and it’s nice to see Arvind Swamy steer clear of all that and doing a wonderful job in playing the same character with panache all over again.
Overall Dhruva is a honest remake of Thani Oruvan and is easily one of the better commercial films from Telugu cinema of late. And yes for a change the comparison with the original does not really turn out to be a deterrent factor in appreciating the film.