9 December 2012 | sshogben
Deliciously funny comedy ... and a rare opportunity to watch an actor redefine his career before your very eyes
The storyline of the 2012 Telugu hit comedy film "Poola Rangadu" ('Colourful Ranga') is deceptively simple: an educated and ingenious young man from the city seeks to recoup his struggling family's fortunes through a rural real estate deal that proves to have potentially deadly consequences.
The fun is in the details.
Ranga (Sunil) and his business partner Bosu (Satyam Rajesh) acquire 30 acres in a rural farming district that is scheduled for industrial development. But the deal really is too-good-to-be-true. Upon arrival at the site, Ranga discovers that his 30 acres are wedged between the lands of two rich landlords who hate each other so much that each will kill to keep the other from any advantage – including this 30 acres. Through his childhood friend Vasu (Ali) whom he takes into his confidence, Ranga infiltrates the gang of Konda Reddy (Dev Gill). But this strategy proves to be a dead end, he hopes not literally. At this point Ranga's only hope is to befriend the daughter of the equally vicious Lala Goud (Pradeep Singh Rawat) – Anitha (Isha Chawla), a medical student who is no dummy – and beguile her into intervening with her father on his behalf. Ranga will need all his wits and daring to succeed. The tangled tale of how Ranga negotiates these competing perils makes for a very funny ride indeed!
Some favourite funny highlights: Konda Reddy's 'dragonfly hunt' Lala Goud's 'music appreciation' Ranga's 'blasting with English' speech, that becomes more and more outrageous once he realises that no one else can understand a word of what he's saying Ranga's subsequent nonsense 'blasting with Hindi' how clever Anitha trips Ranga up with all this
"Poola Rangadu" was NOT a big budget project. No exotic locations. No expensive visual effects. But it succeeded very well – (theatrical run over 100 days) – and did very special things with what resources it had.
I particularly enjoyed the relish both Dev Gill and Pradeep Singh Rawat, respectively, brought to the two bloodthirsty landlords. Both actors famous for playing hard-core villains seemed to thrive on this opportunity to play characters so refreshingly three-dimensional and multi-faceted.
The music by Anoop Rubens and dances by Prem Rakshith went a long way to ground the story. The songs are progressive and underpin much of the story, all by themselves. The title song 'Poola Rangadu' (jaw-droppingly danced by Sunil) introduces Ranga through his dream of becoming cool, 'Colourful Ranga' who succeeds in life through taking risks. 'Nuvve Nuvvele' captures Ranga's futile attempts to win over Anitha. 'Okkade Okkade' is the turning point of the whole film. 'Nuvvu Naku Kavali' presents Ranga's first fantasies of love, and the jubilant 'Chocolate Kannula' Ranga's (premature) exhilaration at success. The background score – especially for the climax scene – was also outstanding.
But what will everyone MOST remember about "Poola Rangadu"?
Good god, who would have thought?
If anyone who had already appeared in some 160 movies over 12 years could be said to have a 'debut vehicle', "Poola Rangadu" is Sunil's debut. It is that much a showcase of range and talent.
Typecasting in India, North or South, is peculiarly rigid – once a villain, always a villain; once a supporting character, always a supporting character – and leading man 'hero' opportunities are all too often rigidly bound by family associations. For an outsider like Sunil totally unconnected to any of the great film families AND career-typecast as a comic supporting character (and specifically, 'the hero's funny fat friend' at that) to break into hero roles – and succeed, as Sunil has – is almost unprecedented.
His first leading role, "Andala Ramudu" (2006), was a one-off 'comedy entertainer', an extremely low-budget movie with limited release that performed unexpectedly well. Four years later, however, the breakout success of S. S. Rajamouli's sly masterpiece "Maryada Ramanna" (2010) proved that Sunil-as-hero was no fluke; Sunil won raves from audiences and awards from critics citing the unexpected range and depth and charm of his performance in the central role. Then in Ram Gopal Varma's biting industry satire, "Katha Screenplay Darsakatvam: Appalaraju" (2011), Sunil deservedly won raves as the straight man of the piece, aspiring director Appalaraju, about whom the whole mad mess revolved. Showcased Sunil's non-comedic dramatic range ... though still as a fat guy.
But in "Poola Rangadu"?
The training wheels as hero – and the extra pounds – are finally off. And HOW!
Trimmed down to the proportions of ... well ... exactly what one expects of a regular leading man, Sunil in "Poola Rangadu" conclusively proved the following:
1. Sunil need not be fat, to be funny.
2. Now that we can actually see what he looks like, sans the fat – surprise! Give the man a neck and a waistline, and Sunil is quite remarkably handsome.
3. (Prabhu Deva having retired to a director's chair) Sunil may be the best male dancer currently active in South.
4. Yes, the ever-amiable Sunil can find a 'mean gene' – and carry off a believable fight scene.
For me, the revolutionary thing about Sunil's climax scene in "Poola Rangadu" was less the much-vaunted 'six pack abs' than how Sunil demonstrated so convincingly that he CAN do a serious action sequence – and make it 100% believable.
In "Poola Rangadu", Sunil has arrived as a legitimate film hero.
Tall, dark, & handsome ... action hero, romantic hero ... good dramatic range ... comedy genius ... box office success ... brains AND now body ... 'Skinny Sunil' works for me!
No wonder, directors are now reportedly falling all over themselves to sign Hero Sunil to high-profile "A" list projects.
But while we wait for what he does next, we can all have lots of fun enjoying Sunil's purely delightful "Poola Rangadu".