Rating: 4.0/10 (Rana all the way)
Cast: Rana Daggubati, Kajal Aggarwal, Catherine Tresa, Navdeep, Ajay, Pradeep Rawat, Ashutosh Rana, Sivaji Raja, Josh Ravi, Satya Prakash, Bithri Sathi, JayaPrakash Reddy, Prabhas Sreenu, Posani Murali Krishna
Story-Screenplay-Direction: Teja
Producer: Daggubati Suresh Babu
Banner: Suresh Productions
After gaining international recognition for his incredible performance as Bhallaladeva in Baahubali, actor Rana Daggubati is back with his latest solo film, Nene Raju Nene Mantri. Directed by yesteryear director Teja who is also hoping to make a comeback, does this film live upto the expectations? Not quite. Let's find out why.
Plot: Nene Raju Nene Mantri chronicles the rapid rise and downfall of a man named Radha Jogendra (Rana Daggubati), his relationships with his wife Radha (Kajal Aggarwal) and a reporter Devika Rani (Catherine Tresa) and how his world gets turned upside down in his quest for power and redemption.
Performances: Similar to Mahesh Babu in Khaleja, Rana Daggubati gives the performance of a lifetime and he is simply incredible as Jogendra. This movie proves the Rana the star has finally arrived and he single-handedly carries the film from start to finish despite an absolutely ludicrous script. He is so convincing as the corrupted man who will do anything for power in society and his screen presence is growing with each passing film. If you want to watch this movie, then watch it only for Rana.
Kajal Aggarwal in her 50th Telugu film finally gets a role where she uses her acting skills to good use. She gives a career best performance as Radha and she is superb. Catherine Tresa looks seductive and does a good job in her role as the scheming Devika Rani.
It's Navdeep who gets a crucial role as Shiva, the close confidant of Jogendra and he makes the most of it and is responsible for the film's most emotional moment.  Ashutosh Rana gets a routine role as the villain and does something he has done 100 times by now.
Raja Ravindra gets a small but crucial role. Pradeep Rawat as the sarpanch makes an impact in the beginning.
Ajay plays the role of a police officer who is constantly after Jogendra.
Posani, Prabhas Sreenu, JP Reddy and TV sensation Bithri Sathi take care of the comedy department and they are competent in bringing out some laughs.
Direction: Since Nijam, one cannot recall a good film that director Dharma Teja has made in the recent past. All of his films have bitten the dust and they were criticized for being poor films. One wondered if Teja still had that talent to make a huge comeback and with a reputed productino house and a rising star like Rana, he had all the pieces in place. In my opinion however, he has failed to make the comeback. After a somewhat illogical but scintillating first half, Teja gives an emotional twist for the interval bang. Post the interval, the film spirals downward with just pointless scenes and writing which effectively kill the film. While Teja said he wanted to make a realistic film and inspire others to not be zebras but take action instead, he halfheartedly gets the message across. Teja was trying to show how corrupt politicians function and how their rise to power is but in the process he has glorified the actions of Jogendra and comes up with a shocking climax to fulfill the redemption of Jogendra and cleanse him of his sins. Overall, Teja does an average job and I think he may have actually confused himself in what message he was trying to give the audience in the end.
Technicalities: Music and BGM by Anup Rubens is alright. The BGM could have been better. Cinematography by Venkat C. Dileep is excellent. The visuals in the village and in the main city and a few buildings in the 2nd half are stunning to watch. Editing by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao is a joke. About 20-25 mins in the 2nd half could have easily been chopped off. Dialogues by Lakshmi Bhupal don't make an impact except one or two "samathalu" uttered by Rana. Artwork is rich. Fights are alright but the car fight in the 2nd half is a bit ridiculous, Teja has shown Rana as superman in this sequence. Production Values by Suresh Productions are flawless as usual. The film looks grand and rich in every frame.
+ Rana Daggubati
+ Kajal Aggarwal and Catherine Tresa
- Logic
- 2nd Half
- Realism Aspect
Analysis and Final Verdict: As stated before, Rana's popularity has grown to new heights post Baahubali, Teja is looking for a comeback, and all he had to do was deliver. Sadly, he did not. I don't know if it's right to blame only the director if a film is badly made. But more often than not he's the reason for the output not being upto expectations.
Firstly, the script is such a bakwaas script I can't even start. I seriously wonder how Teja convinced Rana and Suresh Babu to make this movie. In a time where the Telugu audiences are ok with realistic content and better stories, Nene Raju Nene Mantri is one of the most unrealistic and ridiculous movies to come out in recent times. Director Teja claimed it's a realistic film but it's far from it and it lacks any logic. Let's delve into it.
The film starts off with a man about to be hanged and he is revealed to be Jogendra played by Rana. His last wish is to have his life story telecasted on national television and the police and media arrive at the jail so he can start narrating his story. We are then taken to a flashback that shows how much Jogendra loves his wife Radha and their relationshop.
When the local sarpanch's wife causes a miscarriage to Radha, Jogendra makes it his personal mission to see the downfall of the sarpanch. In the process, he rigs the local elections and wins and then shoots the sarpanch to death with the local MLA and police around.
Then he blackmails a police officer by shooting himself in the hand and then claiming he will use this as bait to draw sympathy from the locals and then make the cop lose his job.
He then proceeds to keep killing other individuals and slowly rises to power and this is completely unknown to his wife. He then kills his own aide with a small misunderstanding but his wife still doesn't know about his actions. Ridiculous! And I'm sure the police know about Jogendra and his actions but they don't do anything.
Rana's actions are in danger of being leaked to the media by a seductive reporter by Devika Rani who blackmails Jogendra but in order to fix the situation, Jogendra decides to sleep with her and cheats on his own wife and has an affair with this woman.
In the 2nd half, we are treated to boring and illogical sequences between Rana and Devika Rani and how Ashutosh Rana will try to take down Rana. The film literally does not move and bores us. In another sequence, Devika says something bad about Radha and then Jogendra grabs her by the neck and says he will kill her if he says anything bad about his wife. So that's begs the question as to why he is having an affair with her in the first place!
We are then shown that Kajal was injured in an attack and she kills herself to give Jogendra motivation to become the CM. Jogendra becomes the CM and then he casually just blows up 100 corrupt MLA's and politicians and the police do absolutely nothing about it. We are then shown that the public sympathizes with Jogendra and they want to see him live. They plead for Jogendra to be released.
My question though is why would anyone sympathize with this man? He killed so many people, did terrible things, and then society still wants to see him live? I just don't understand. By the end of the movie, you're confused as to what Teja was actually trying to show you.
Was he saying that corrupt politicians should be allowed redemption? Or did he want to show how their lives are in the form of the Jogendra's role? We may never know.
The only thing that holds the film together is Rana's flawless performance of Jogendra. The movie is ridiculous put he powers it through with an amazing performance.
Overall, Nene Raju Nene Mantri is a highly illogical film from Teja and Rana. Illogical sequences, a terrible 2nd half, and ridiculous scenes play the spoilsport of what could have been an amazing entertainer. Watch it only for Rana Daggubati's spotless performance.