One of the tribes on the Andhra Karnataka border had been displaced by force, their small village had been burnt down by Reddappa's men. Reddappa - the criminal miner (a safe reference to Janardhan Reddy who would probably hate it if he ever got to see this formula villain they have depicted him as. One of our biggest scammers will have more to him).
And in Hyderabad...
Surabhi is a dying theatre group. Babu (Rana), who had been a part of the group for long is now making his plans to go abroad much against his grandfather's interests (Surabhi Subrahmanyam played by Kota Srinivas Rao).
Subrahmanyam is the man who kept the theatre group going and wants Babu to perform one last play in his home town near Bellary before he leaves. A play he wrote for Babu. Subrahmanyam however doesn't make it past that night and the group decide to do the play in his honour.
In Bellary...One of the actors from the group gets into a feud with Reddappa's men and gets his tongue chopped off. This reason serves for Babu's essential need to beat up people and links his story with Devika (a media person played by Nayanatara), who is in Bellary to gather footage for her documentary exposing the illegal mining.
Once Babu's past comes into play, the film like all films involving Babus puts us through the twist after twist exercise.
What comes first is all that matters
The film places scenes about artistic integrity, injustice to the tribal and the struggle of the common man between boring interludes of Telugu masala. And being a film that had pledged its integrity to the 'Telugu entertainment' methods first, it can only bore you with its pretentious tone backed by a poor and overdone score.
Except for a few close ups he's pulled off, Rana continues to struggle with an awkward screen presence with no idea of what to do if he's not the one delivering lines. When you have lines to say, you have something to do, you can say the lines.
The rest were just typecasts except in a few sequences involving stage plays. Kota on stage, which was very brief was all that got me excited. And of course the cameo by Venkatesh in an item song, best part of the movie.
Nothing is more annoying than a draggy commercial film trying to be socially evocative. The seriousness it craves for never makes it past the fluff.