White Guy Watches Bollywood

A random white guy engages with contemporary Indian cinema... one movie at a time

Nandamuri Kalyan Ram

Telugu Movie Review: Devil is a watchable, but entirely unoriginal British-Indian spy thriller

Nandamuri Kalyan Ram stars in "Devil," the new Telugu British-Indian spy movie, here reviewed by White Guy Watches Bollywood.

Devil is such a transparent hybridization of James Bond and RRR that I’d be stunned if there wasn’t a point (or more likely, many points) in the project’s development where it was pitched exactly as such. If screenwriter Srikanth Vissa was even remotely trying to hide these “influences” in the script, his efforts were entirely destroyed by producer/director Abhishek Nama, who seems to seize every opportunity he can to remind the viewer of them. (Nama reportedly took over directing duties from Naveen Medaram after 105 days of shooting over “creative differences,” and one must wonder if this was part of the issue.) The nonstop nods begin with the opening titles, which are such a shameless, poor man’s rip-off of a Bond introduction, it verges on adorable. I practically expected to hear a Telugu language version of Adele’s “Skyfall.” That’s the thing about Devil: for as completely lacking in originality as the film is, it’s endearing in the same way that many ’90s straight-to-video imposters once were.

Like James Bond, our hero – codename Devil – is a secret agent working for the British government. He’s Indian by nationality, but this is 1945, and Devil has sworn to protect the British Raj. We don’t know too much more about him or his background, beyond the fact that he is clearly capable of singlehandedly taking down other men by the dozen, as we watch him go about comfortably in an early action set-piece aboard a ship being raided by pirates. Lead actor Nandamuri Kalyan Ram’s performance seems to thrive upon the expository deficit when it comes to Devil’s character; he’s content to play him as rather generically suave and smooth when he isn’t showing off an investigative attention-to-detail that rivals those of Poirot and Benoit Blanc.

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