(Click here for the audio review or scroll down to the end)
Netflix series “Rana Naidu” has an episode titled ‘Kitna gurda, Kitna goo’ and serves as inspiration for this review title. Now that we have the explanation out of the way, let’s talk about the ten episode series created by Karan Anshuman, with Rana Daggubati and Venkatesh Daggubati in the lead. Rated ‘A’ for adult themes, explicit language and several sexual scenes, it isn’t ideal for watching with the family.
Plot overview – Rana plays the titular Rana Naidu, who is Bollywood’s go-to man for covering up scandals, secrets and all sorts of fuck-ups. A ‘fixer’ with a top politician as his patron, Rana is almost invincible, but problems flood into his personal life when his father, Naga (Venkatesh), is released from jail after 15 years and worms his way back into the Naidu family. Naga was in jail for a murder he claims he didn’t commit, but Rana doesn’t want the man around either his wife and kids nor his two brothers.
The story is set in Mumbai and the Naidu family are Hyderbadis at heart, so they speak Hyderabadi Hindi, this allows both Rana and Vankatesh to speak with south-Indian accents while making perfect sense for the show. Abhishek Banerjee and Sushant Singh play Rana’s brothers Jaffa and Tej respectively. Abhishek Banerjee delivers the most poignant performance in this series as the broken Jaffa who was sexually assaulted as a young boy by a self-styled Godman. The trauma haunts him into adulthood and therapy does little to fix him and the return of his father only makes things worse.
In this largely male dominated cast, where woman are just pawns or play-things, Surveen Chawla as Rana’s wife Naina is the only woman with some agency, but her character isn’t treated with much respect. To Surveen’s credit, she does what the role demands of her. Gaurav Chopra’s cameo as movie superstar Prince Reddy briefly reminded me of Manav Kaul’s part in “The Fame Game”, even though there’s few similarities between the two characters. Ashish Vidyarthi swoops in as ‘bad guy’ Surya in the last half and does a commendable job. In-fact, most of the actors are well-cast, but the execution of the story is choppy.
“Rana Naidu” becomes a tedious watch because of the larger-than-life yet cliched character of the lead – Ranu is the typical serious brooding anti-hero who has the same angry expression through most of the show. I thought I’d be able to finish watching the series in two days, but it was pretty difficult to keep my interest up for more than one episode per day. And the plot gets overstretched episode eight onward. This whole family drama could’ve been wrapped up in seven crisp episodes, with wittier dialogues that didn’t simply rely on cuss words to make things gritty. It was just cringe-y to watch Venkatesh say crass dialogues like “tera Cobra Cobri ke liye taiyyar hai” to his son. And that’s one of the nicer lines that comes out his mouth. Some of the scenes that could’ve been funny were ill-timed. Thankfully, the climax wasn’t soppy!
Essentially, there’s close to zero comedy relief in the series, the action scenes are generically choreographed, and there are a bunch of sub-plots that could’ve been deleted completely. Overall, “Rana Naidu” is more crass and less class.
It’s a 5/10 from me.