Comedy is a serious business. Gags can turn into boring ‘hmms’ and uninterested ’zzzs’ if the jokes don’t land well. Satire can fall flat, if it doesn’t serve its purpose. It’s a fact that people these days, generally get offended by satirical jokes. It’s not because the joke’s not funny, rather it’s because whatever the joke wanted to convey, it had hit the bull’s eye, confirmed by the number of people baying for the comedian’s blood. So when writing or for that matter creating comedy, one has to be really sharp about his eventual consumers. Fortunately, the writer-director Anudeep KV’s ‘Jathi Ratnalu’ turns out to be superb comedy that keeps its satire well disguised. It’s a smartly made film that manages to keep its silliness intact while punching well above its weight. It’s about the three good-for-nothing friends Srikanth, Ravi and Shekhar from a small town called Jogipet. Dreams of a big city, lures them to the city of Hyderabad. While looking out for jobs and trying to win the heart of the neighbourhood girl, the trio get implicated in an attempt to murder case of a local politician. How they come out of it, forms the crux of the story. 

‘Jathi Ratnalu’ in Telugu, translates to jewels of the nation. It’s, of course a pun, to describe the three lead characters who keep on proving their worthlessness with their hilarious antics. Srikanth, who’s locally known for his impeccable sense of matching ladies clothes with accessories is the loudmouth of the group. Ravi is the alcoholic who keeps drinking for his so called critical love failures and Shekhar is man, who’s renowned for his cooking skills. The troika manages to keep the audience in splits with their amazing abilities of jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. The movie primarily works because of the chemistry between the lead characters and terrific one-liners that keep the ball rolling. The movie also drives home the points with the satire, that it hopes for. The dreams of the small-town guys of landing something huge in a big city, the scams that regularly occurs in ministry, the unqualified ministers who aim for lucrative portfolios, the ‘Crime Patrol’ inspired way of delivering news, ‘Jathi Ratnalu’ pokes fun into everything and manages to come out unscathed. That’s a total win-win for the director Anudeep. 

The writing is top notch with the gags landing one after the another. The jokes range between silliest to the outrageous. In a hilarious scene, in which one of the goons, on gunpoint keeps describing how to make his tea by stating ‘more milk, less sugar, more devotion’, to which the tea stall guy keeps on repeating as ‘Oka Tea!’ which translates to one tea! The first half of the film, introduces the characters and sets the premise with Srikanth and Chitti’s love story. The second half of the film delves into the search for the missing smartphone with an alleged important video which can implicate the minister. The video works as a McGuffin here, as the audience has to wait till the last frame to know the video’s content. And when it comes out, it’ll surely blows the audience away, with its unique take on sting operation! Do see it.

The anchor of the ship, Naveen Polishetty is a star to watch out for. Over the years, he’s been known for his standup acts and skits with now-defunct group ‘All India Bakchod’ (AIB). His last outing as the bumbling detective ‘Agent Sai Srinivas Athreya’ in the titular film, had everyone in splits. With ‘Jathi Ratnalu’ he goes full overboard with his antics and guffaws. With his atrocious English and crowd pleasing slogans, he literally rocks the boat. In one of the funniest scenes in the courtroom, he calls himself the ‘Citizen Kane’ of the country and asks the country’s ‘constipation’ (read constitution) to decide his future! Priyadarshi and Rahul Ramkrishna ably support him in their respective roles of Shekhar and Ravi. Rahul has a lovely reoccurring gag talking to an unidentified woman over phone, in the middle of each and every incident, oblivious to the situation the group is in. Debutant Faria Abdullah plays Chitti, the neighbourhood girl with whom Srikanth falls in love with. Her courtroom scenes, especially the ones where she attempts to argue her case, are the ones to watch out for. She has a terrific screen presence. Murali Sharma plays the antagonist Minister Chanakya along with the legend Brahmanandam who is in a superb cameo as the deadpan Judge of the courtroom. The ensemble cast is equally hilarious, adequately supporting this inexplicable mad-cap comedy.

All in all, ‘Jathi Ratnalu’ is a terrific ride to ‘hell and heaven’ via the able shoulders of Naveen Polishetty and team. In the midst of a seemingly never ending pandemic, this film is bound to leave you in a happy state of mind. 

After all, life okate Zindagi oipondi ra !

‘Jathi Ratnalu’ now streaming on Amazon Prime. Running time of 2 hours 25 minutes, Rated – Universal for family viewing.

The Cinemawala Rating: 3/5

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