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Riding on his recent success as Bhallaladeva in Baahubali, Rana Daggubati is back as Jogendra in Nene Raju Nene Mantri (I Am The King And I Am The Minister), or NRNM.

The film, directed by cinematographer-turned-director Teja, who has several successful films to his credit, looks into the murky, murderous politics of the day and how a simple cut-throat village money lender pulls out all the stops for the one he loves dearly, and in the process treads the path of no return.

NRNM has all the elements of making a good movie, but what it lacks is a cohesive binding factor. It starts out well, promising a gripping tale of vendetta and ambition. But, Teja crams too many twists in the tale, introduces too many irrelevant characters and quite a few implausible situations that drain the viewer much before the climax, which turns out to be a denouement.

A simple storyline has been complicated and stretched far too long. Easily, half an hour of the footage could have been edited out to sustain the viewers’ interest.

So here’s our protagonist, who’s facing the noose, seeking to recount his life’s story live on TV as his last wish: Jogendra’s world revolves around his wife, Radha (Kajal Agarwal), a woman with a heart of gold who, for instance, returns the ornaments pledged as collateral to the woman whose husband has taken a loan from Jogendra.

The apple cart of their happy, contended life is toppled with a shove by the village chief’s wife that results in Radha’s miscarriage.

A hurt and insulted Jogendra realises it’s difficult to take on the powerful village chief (Pradeep Rawat) unless he himself becomes Sarpanch of the village. And thus he embarks on a game of one-upmanship and by using money, power and machinations wins the hearts of the people to win the election.

It is said power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It proves right in Jogendra’s case as well. Not contended with being sarpanch, he sets his sights on becoming a legislator; next the home minister and finally aspires to become the chief minister of the state. On the way he kills a few people including the minister who had set his evil eye on his wife.

While he thinks he is doing it all for his wife, the lady stays a mute spectator although she despises her husband’s means to achieving his goal. To add to her torment there’s a new entrant in her husband’s life — Devika (Catherine Tresa), a manipulative TV journalist.

What events lead to Jogendra being convicted forms rest of the story.

Teja loses the plot halfway through. Otherwise NRNM would have become a good political thriller.

Performance-wise Rana does well. His mannerisms and dialogue delivery are praiseworthy. Kajal looks demure displaying right emotions. Catherine Tresa is there just for glamour.

Oopiranta nuvve and the title number Jogendra Jogendra Jai Bolo Jogendra stand out among the songs composed by Anup Rubens.

A word must be said about background score — it was too loud, to the point of being irritating.

The details

Nene Raju Nene Mantri

Language Telugu

Cast: Rana Daggubati, Kajal Agarwal, Catherine Tresa, Ashtosh Rana, Pradeep Rawat.

Music: Anup Rubens

Direction: Teja

Run time: 2 hours 33 minutes

Stars: 3/5