Rana Naidu, the official remake of the American series Ray Donovan, has been making waves in the Indian entertainment industry since its release. With Rana Daggubati and Venkatesh Daggubati taking on the roles played by Liv Schreiber and Jon Voight, the show revolves around the dysfunctional Naidu family, their internal squabbles, and the politics that keep pulling them apart.
The show opens with Rana Naidu, who migrated from Hyderabad to Mumbai with his brothers and wife, rising to become the handyman of the political leader OB Mahajan and the fixer for all the rich and mighty of society. Helping him in this are Srini and Lara, among others. However, Rana’s routine is disturbed when his father Naga Naidu, who has been in jail for the last 15 years, is released and comes to Mumbai to mend relations with the family. We gradually learn that it was Rana Naidu who put him in jail, and his release may create problems for Bollywood star Prince Reddy. While Naga Naidu is looking to patch up with his family, Rana and his cohorts are working hard to push Naga away.
The show is high on innuendo, double entendre, and cuss words, most of which are to shock and awe rather than serve the story. After a while, the gaze of the show towards women feels exploitative and disturbing, making it hard to watch. While Ray Donovan was a dark comedy that had its moments, Rana Naidu seems to celebrate its depravity. The premise of the show-two men with few redeeming qualities going up against each other-had a lot of promise but the potential remains untapped.
One of the most striking aspects of the show is the performance of Venkatesh Daggubati. The 62-year-old actor with three decades in the film industry and the image of a ‘family’ star expounds profanity with glee, which some South viewers may find hard to digest. However, the actor is effortless in his part and uses a quaint mix of Hyderabadi Hindi to deliver hugely offensive dialogues with ease.
Rana Daggubati also gives a controlled performance in the eponymous role, while Surveen Chawla gives a decent, nuanced performance as the troubled wife. Sushant Singh and Abhishek Banerjee shine in the only human characters in the entire show. The younger actors have also done well, especially the kid who played rap singer Rehaan.
Despite its flaws, the show boasts top-notch production quality, cinematography, and background score. The overall story-broken family working hard to come together-actually suits Indian sensibilities. However, the way it is treated may not be to everyone’s taste. The Night Manager, another recent adaptation, has been tweaked to suit the Indian audience perfectly, but the show Rana Naidu fails in this regard miserably.
In conclusion, Rana Naidu has a lot of potential but falls short in execution. While the performances by Venkatesh Daggubati and Rana Daggubati are noteworthy, the show’s excessive focus on violence detracts from the plot. The show’s treatment of women is also problematic and may leave viewers feeling uneasy. Despite its production quality, the show fails to appeal to the Indian audience, and its potential remains untapped. Overall, while Rana Naidu may be worth a watch for fans of the genre, it is not a must-see.