‘Rana Naidu’ Review: India Remakes One of America’s Latest TV Classic
The world of remakes is large and expansive. Every month there seems to be a new revision or faithful recreation of some idea from the past. It makes sense to bet for something that has already been proven rather than for something yet to go through that gauntlet. However, for many years it was the norm that Hollywood was the one to remake ideas from other countries. That is not the case anymore; as international industries become bigger, they also need to remake ideas from America Itself. Rana Naidu, a new Indian show on Netflix, proves this.
Rana Naidu is a crime thriller TV series developed by Karan Anshuman and Suparn Verma, who also serves as the series directors. The series is an Indian adaptation of Ray Donovan and stars Rana Daggubati, Venkatesh Daggubati, Suchitra Pillai, Gaurav Chopra, Surveen Chawla, and Adithya Menon. The series follows the titular Rana Naidu, a fixer who spends his time fixing the many issues associated with all sorts of celebrities. Rana Naidu is there to do his job when the stars get messy. However, Rana’s life will drastically turn when his father gets released from jail.
Ray Donovan became one of the biggest successes for Showtime, a TV network focusing more on quality than quantity. Showtime has never really been able to compete with Netflix or other traditional cable Network as HBO, but some of their shows have truly been outstanding, and it could be that Ray Donovan was the biggest of them. The show became its biggest debut ever, running for seven seasons, which is a huge achievement.
However, the show was canceled, and the story concluded with a film in 2022. The Ray Donovan formula and its stories are a sure thing, and it has been found in India, one of the perfect environments to be adapted. Ray Donovan focuses a lot on the interaction between the main character and Hollywood as an industry. India is also one of the biggest markets for producing and consuming movies and television, so you could say the environment is almost the same as in Hollywood, which makes for a simpler and more direct adaptation.
Ray Donovan had the fantastic Liev Schreiber in the main role, and the actor brought with him an entire set of emotions and nuances that made the character just a fantastic one to follow on his journey. Meanwhile, Rana Naidu has Rana Daggubati in the title role. Daggubati is one of India’s biggest movie stars. He managed to break among the different movie industries that we can find in India, and he is a star recognized around the entire country, which is something not many can do.
However, Daggubati, at least in this show, seems to have only one mode, intense mode, and his range as an actor seems quite limited in this series. Ray Donovan was a complex character, and Rana Naidu wants to be just the same, but the character remained in a sort of limbo. The stories are almost exactly the same, but sadly, Daggubati can’t come close to what Schreiber did with the character. Daggubati might be one of the biggest draws for the show for the Indian audience, but for those who watch the original show, he is not the best substitute.
Rana’s uncle Venkatesh Daggubati fares a lot better when it comes to replacing another fantastic actor, Jon Voight, from the original series. The veteran actor manages to feel big on the screen in ways his nephew can’t. It is nice to see these two play father and son in the show, but Venkatesh outmatches his nephew in every scene they share together. Venkatesh might be older, but he is also wiser and has better performance; many scenes are saved just by his extreme charisma, which is something that Rana doesn’t seem to have in this show.
The rest of the cast does a good job, and the plethora of characters paints a very diverse en complex picture of the entertainment industry in India. Of course, most of the details are fictional, and they take a lot of inspiration from the original show, but it still manages to create something that feels very much like coming from India and India alone. The production values regarding the sets and production design are quite solid as well, and the series will take you on quite a journey through several locales.
The series also does a good job when creating action sequences. You won’t get the same extreme sequences as a movie made in China or Indonesia, but the sequences are still exciting. Rana is not a martial artist by any means, but he is a man of action. Daggubati carries himself very well during these sequences, yet they still manage to expose his lackings as an actor, at least in this role. His intensity is of such a high level that it borders parody, and that might not have been the intended effect.
Rana Naidu is an entertaining remake of an American classic. However, it doesn’t reach the original show’s highs. For many years, people blamed Americans for destroying original ideas from other countries with pointless remakes, but Rana Naidu confirmed that remaking something is not so easy. The production values are quite nice, and each of the problems that the characters get involved in is quite entertaining. It is sad that the main actor just brings everything down thanks to a very bland and almost comedic performance.