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A gangster drama in the garb of Sci-Fi

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Story: Vasu (Ravi Teja) goes missing and his family is worried for him. He’s said to have been found frozen in Ladakh by a team of scientists running Relive Biolab, who want to pioneer in reviving dead people. Disco Raj (Ravi Teja) is a music-loving gangster who has made some enemies in his time with his past hot on his heels. How do all these stories connect?

Review: Vi Anand tries to do a lot to mask the fact that Disco Raja, when stripped down to the bare minimum, is nothing but a good ol’ gangster drama. He begins the tale with a massive dose of melodrama to make you think this will be a heart-wrenching film. Then he shifts gears to Sci-Fi to make you think he has finally gotten to the point. There are also two love stories thrown in for good measure before the film gets down to the nitty gritty, the gangster drama it aims to tell. But by then, you’re beyond trying to understand what he’s trying to do. Sure, when thought about, the film falls under the cross-genre category but what happens when none of the genres he touches upon manage to work? Disco Raja is what happens.

Vasu (Ravi Teja) has a massive family made up of orphans who have found support in each other. Them and his girlfriend Nabha (Nabha Natesh) are asked to give up on hoping for his return, but they remain optimistic even in melodramatically trying times. A group of scientists from Relive Biolab hit gold when they find a frozen body in Ladakh and the boss, Dr Sharma (Shishir), decides to turn him into his lab rat. The aim is to pioneer in beating death and Parineeti (Tanya Hope) is an unwilling participant. Then there’s the gangster Burma Sethu (Bobby Simha) who suffers from PTSD and his biggest rival remains Disco Raja (Ravi Teja). A hired killer (Naresh) is hot on the heels of Vasu, sent by an unknown man. And when all these storylines connect, what you get is one hot mess.

Disco Raja gets into the thick of things right off the bat, which is good. But the way Vi Anand meanders, taking his own sweet time unravelling each tale as if it’s the most important thing in the film, begins to get on your nerves after a while. Despite all the detailing he gives out, he never really spends enough time to keep us invested in the characters at hand. The ‘twists’ remain predictable all through the film and it’s only at the end that he manages to surprise you. But by then it’s too late. But there’s a scene involving chicken biryani, Disco Raja and Burma Sethu that is pulled off well.

A lot of actors in this film remain wasted, be it Nabha Natesh, Bobby Simha, Naresh or Satya. Nabha Natesh’s character cannot be called anything more than a supporting role as she’s hardly even present in the film. Bobby Simha, Naresh or Satya never really get a chance to take off with their characters. Tanya Hope gets a good enough role and she delivers; so do Payal Rajput and Vennela Kishore. At some point and in certain scenes, you feel even Ravi Teja remains underutilised. But he manages to carry the film on his shoulders, giving it his all, despite the shoddy material he’s offered. He’s a delight to watch on-screen and no matter what, that’ll never change.

The surprise package of this film however is (you’ll never guess it) Sunil. The actor delivers a knock-out performance as Uttara Kumar and you’ll just have to watch the film to believe it. Clearly the actor is massively underutilised in most other films and he just relishes the role, playing it with a kind of glee that’s hard to come by. Sunil proves his versatility in this one. Karthik Ghattamaneni’s cinematography is beautiful too, so is Thaman S’ BGM, even if his music fails to impress. Even a song by Disco King Bappi Lahiri cannot make things work. Abburi Ravi’s dialogues are good enough, especially the catch-lines that inject some meaningless fun.

Disco Raja is a mixed bag that’s let down by Vi Anand’s writing. Despite picking an interesting aspect to base his tale on, he falls down the rabbit hole of delivering ‘entertainment’ in a routine manner. The build-up to any of these tales is definitely not worth the landing they get. The film is a waste of talent, but it’s Ravi Teja and Sunil that make it worth a watch.

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