Raju Kannada Medium movie review: Gurunandan starrer is a step ahead of predecessor but that's not enough

Karthik Keramalu

Jan,20 2018 10:52:13 IST

With the Raju series, writer-director Naresh Kumar is pushing his character, Raju, to teach the audiences some moral lessons.

Gurunandan in a still from Raju Kannada Medium. YouTube

Gurunandan in a still from Raju Kannada Medium. YouTube

1st Rank Raju, which released two years ago, showed us how life’s goal should not be all about being the first in school and college. It should rather be about gaining knowledge and a wholesome experience of childhood and adolescence through friendship, bunking classes, and watching films in theatres.

The filmmaker proved his point by making his first rank student Raju (played by Gurunandan) go to a company headed by Satyamurthy (Anant Nag), a last-bencher, for a job interview. It was the most significant aspect of 1st Rank Raju.

Raju’s interaction with Satyamurthy opens his eyes and he starts seeing the world around him anew with the help of his father’s timely advices. On the same lines, Naresh Kumar has given one more “message” with his latest venture, Raju Kannada Medium. The message is bigger and splashier here. It involves making money and the sacrifices one has to make to reach the top position. And, in Anant Nag’s shoes, there’s Sudeep.

Gurunandan is not just an actor anymore. He is the Rank Star. Isn’t it funny that filmmakers are not even looking for cool prefixes for their stars? The male star’s name gets attached with his first big hit. Rank Star does seem tame in front of Superstar, Rocking Star, Challenging Star, Golden Star and Rebel Star. But who cares anyway?

Sudeep’s cameo, as the richest Indian man, in Raju Kannada Medium, works brilliantly for the overall niceness of the movie. However, the one particular dialogue he utters to encourage Raju to face all the hurdles like a man irked me. That massy dialogue also gave me a glimpse into the director’s psyche.

Women are neither strugglers nor achievers. They are just present in the background of the larger picture. That is perhaps the reason for his female lead, played by Avantika Shetty, losing her voice mid-way in the film, as the spotlight shifts entirely toward the hero. Gurunandan’s Raju wants to work hard and live a luxurious life. So the Kannada-loving poet, Raju, starts off by becoming a door-to-door salesman and soon enough, rises to being addressed to as “Sir”. He is not an employee anymore. He is the employer – the boss. As he gets sucked into the web of money matters, he assures Nisha that he is doing it for her. And, Nisha, too, nods along meekly.

Why would a woman, who is educated and financially independent, not say a word against her boyfriend’s regressive attitude? Shouldn’t the onus of building a future depend on both of their incomes? Naresh Kumar’s fictitious rich man does not recognize the struggles that women and trans-folk face, and even his heroine takes a step back to allow the hero to put food on the table.

And humor is sandwiched between these focal points. Some jokes work and some bits poorly fizzle out. Chikkanna’s monologue about the people of Bengaluru is spot on. The quality of dark comedy in his lengthy dialogue will definitely be enjoyed by the people of Bengaluru. It might turn into a WhatsApp forward too, one of these days.

The sense of wit that Raju Kannada Medium possesses is far better than the crude-worthy soul of 1st Rank Raju despite its imperfect output. Also, there is an unnecessary amount of knives pointed at the English language. If the usage of incorrect English words and phrases gave the laughs in last week’s release, Humble Politician Nograj, the same method, which has been employed in this movie, receives a thumbs down.

The journey of Raju from Malenadu (his birth place) to an unnamed island (a Cast Away-inspired segment that appears in the final portions) is a long and bumpy ride. It is majorly helped by the pristine visuals (set in and around the Western Ghats) and Kiran Ravindranath’s warm music. The songs do not disappoint at all (unlike the poetry peppered all over the film).

Raju Kannada Medium is no doubt a step ahead of its predecessor in all respects. But that is not enough.

Updated Date: Jan 20, 2018 10:52 AM