January 18, 2023
by Carla Hay
Directed by Vijay Binni
Telugu with subtitles
Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed city in India, in the late 1980s (and briefly in 1963), the action film “Naa Saami Ranga” features an all-Indian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.
Culture Clash: An orphan gets adopted by a powerful government family, and when he’s an adult, he becomes involved in the family’s power struggles.
Culture Audience: “Naa Saami Ranga” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching formulaic action movies with many unrealistic fight scenes.
“Naa Saami Ranga” has more of the same predictable action-movie story about a hero character who’s caught up in violent feuding, revenge schemes, and a difficult romance. The generic and uninspiring plot becomes incoherent and annoying after a while. The awkwardly placed musical numbers are forgettable and formulaic.
Written and directed by Vijay Binni, “Naa Saami Ranga” is so derivative of many other similar movies, if you’ve seen enough of them, then you’ll know exactly how the movie is gong to end about 15 to 20 minutes after the movie starts. “Naa Saami Ranga” (which means “my goodness gracious” in Hindi) recycles the same old story of an underdog “hero,” who battles against enemies (usually those with more money and more power), while his love life consist mostly of chasing after a woman who seems to be unattainable.
The movie (which place in an unnamed village in India) begins in 1963, when an orphan named Kishtaiah, who’s about 12 to 13 years old, is invited to live with his best friend Anji (who’s about 10 or 11 years old) and Anji’s single mother. Kishtaiah and Anji are raised as brothers. The movie never bothers to explain what happened to Kishtaiah’s parents or anything about his family background.
One day, tragedy strikes when Anji’s mother suddenly dies. No cause of death is given n the movie. At the time of her death, she was heavily in mortgage debt to a wealthy businessman named Varadaraju (played by Rao Ramesh), who demands that Kishtaiah and Anji give the deceased mother’s house to him, in order to pay off the debt.
Instead of leaving these boys poor and orphaned, a powerful local government official named Peddayya (played by Nassar) volunteers to pay off the debt and raise Kishtaiah and Anji alongside his three other pre-teen sons. One of Peddayya’s sons is named Dasu, who shows the most resentment over having two new boys in the household. And you know what that means later in the story.
Kishtaiah meets Varamahalakshmi, nicknamed Varalu, the daughter of Varadaraju. It’s love at first sight, but Kishtaiah is too shy to approach her when he first sees her. He eventually starts talking to Varalu but is afraid to tell her how he really feels about her. Anji gives encourgagement to Kishtaiah, who gets enough confidence to tell Varalu his true feelings.
But on the day that Kishtaiah plans to do that, he sees his adoptive father Peddayya frantically driving a car that is being chased by a gang of about 20 thugs in a remote area. Peddayya is wounded. It just so happens that Kishtaiah has a gun with him, which he takes out an aims at the thugs.
“Naa Saami Ranga” then fast-fowards to 1988. The movie never shows what happened after Kishtaiah took out that gun, but it’s explained later that Kishtaiah shot the thugs and saved Peddayya’s life. In gratitude, Peddayya began to treat Kishtaiah (played by Nagarjuna) as equal to his biological sons. And you just know that this is going to cause major problems between Kishtaiah and Dasu (played by Shabeer Kallarakkal), who wants to be Peddayya’s favorite son.
During this time, Kishtaiah and Anji (played by Allari Naresh) are still best friends. Anji has fallen in love with a woman named Manga (played by Mirnaa Menon), and they get married. Kishtaiah and Anji are so close, Kishtaiah continues to live with Anji even after Anji gets married.
Kishtaiah now acts like a village protector against bullies, with a machete as a weapon of choice. No longer a shy teenager, Kishtaiah (who is a chainsmoker) walks around with a lot of swagger and arrogance. It’s more than enough to attract Varalu (played by Ashika Ranganath), who becomes charmed by Kishtaiah, and they fall in love with each other after she plays “hard to get.”
The relationshp between Kishtaiah and Varalu doesn’t go smoothly. Her father Varadaraju hasn’t forgotten about Kishtaiah’s poverty-striken childhood before Kishtaiah was adopted by Peddayya. Varadaraju doesn’t approve of Varalu dating Kishtaiah for caste reasons and because he thinks Kishtaiah deserves to be with someone who is more refined.
That’s not the only storyline about a father disapproving of a couple. There’s also a subplot about Kishtaiah and Anji befriending a guy named Bhaskar (played by Raj Tarun), who is dating a woman named Kumari (played by Rukshar Dhillon) whom Bhaskar wants to marry. However, Kumari’s father Veerabhadrudu (played by Madhusudan Rao), who is the president of a nearby village named Jagganna Thota, vehemently opposes the idea of Bhaskar marrying Kumari, because Veerabhadrudu doesn’t think Bhaskar is good enough to marry Kumari.
The rest of “Naa Saami Ranga” is about conflicts over these romance problems, which lead to family feuds and a lot of silly-looking fight scenes in a messy story. There is absolutely nothing creatively imaginative about “Naa Saami Ranga.” The acting is mediocre, and the dialogue is simplistic. It will be difficult for many viewers to emotionally connect with the adult Kishtaiah, because he comes across as very shallow and has a nasty temper, even though he is very loyal to his loved ones.
Because there’s a missing 25-year gap in the story, there’s no real explanation for the drastic personality change from the shy teenage Kishtaiah to the combative adult Kishtaiah. It’s implied that when he shot the thugs who were attacking Peddayya, this violent incident changed Kishtaiah. But there’s no real indication in the movie that this theory is true, because this entire movie is poorly written.
The action scenes are sloppy and very unrealistic. For example, in one of the major showdown scenes, a certain person is brutally stabbed, and then gets up and moves around as if that person has no injuries at all. The movie expects viewers to take this idiotic scene seriously. Ultimately, “Naa Saami Ranga” fails to bring suspense or an interesting story, which makes the movie’s 150-minute runtime feel much longer.
RKD Studios released “Naa Saami Ranga” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on January 14, 2024.