There is no shortage of commercial films in the Telugu film industry. Commercial flicks that have politics and politicians, and stories going around these two topics. There are scams and schemes that are unearthed, and there is never a shortage of good people that come out victorious through ridiculous methods such as gravity-defying fight sequences. Meter is one of those films directed by Ramesh Kaduri which talks about a boy who decides to never join the police force, going against his father’s wishes. Will the boy finally succumb to his father’s wishes, or will he do as he pleases?
Arjun Defies His Father
The movie begins with Arjun seeing his father, a police constable, being transferred to another city for doing the right thing. His father ticked off a local politician who retaliated by making sure his father would not stay in the city. His father Venkat Ratnam is visibly upset but he refuses to speak against the police force. He says there are people like him who would do the right thing by protecting the people, and he wants to erase the image of police being the bad people out there. Venkat Ratnam puts across his wish of making Arjun a high-ranking police officer in the hope Arjun would do the right thing. Arjun, unfortunately, witnesses his father being slapped by the same politician. This makes Arjun decide to despise the idea of a police job and take a vow to never join the police force because he is not ready to take the humiliation that comes with it. Arjun has made up his mind because he was upset to see his father being humiliated in public, and he does not think any job out there is worth keeping if an uncouth politician could come and assault you in a public place. That’s why it was easy for him to make his decision. The only catch is Arjun has not yet revealed this plan to his father because it would make him upset. He knows his father has been through a lot because of his job, and he does not want to further put him in a bad state of mind.
Years later, when Arjun comes of age, he finally reaches a point where he will give three tests to get in as SI with the Telangana police. Arjun gives his father multiple excuses for why he did not pass the examination. Arjun purposefully skips the exam with the only motive of not appearing in the final shortlist. While heading for the final physical examination test, he runs into a bunch of goons who had kidnapped a girl. Arjun is instantly attracted to the girl because that’s just what happens in commercial films. A young man who has no clue about his future ends up falling for a beautiful woman and wanting to have a happily ever after with her. How believable. He ends up saving the woman and her father from the goons, and in the nick of time reaches to give his final physical examination test. The whole idea of Arjun getting into a fight is to delay his entry for the physical examination. He is trying his best to keep from getting into the police force, but his father is clueless about his plan. To Arjun’s shock, he gets recruited. He and his friend come up with an elaborate plan to make sure Arjun is suspended and later dismissed from his job within a few days of joining.
Arjun reaches his place of work, the police station, in civilian clothes, and gets his friend as his PA. His colleagues are shocked to see Arjun’s behavior, and the fact he got his own PA to do his talk and work. Arjun is carrying out these antics in the hope someone would let his superiors know, and he would be asked to leave the force with immediate effect, and if that happens, he will not look back from then on. As his first task, he lets out the goons who were arrested as a part of a drug racket bust. Arjun again does this to make sure he loses his job. His commissioner comes to know of this release and comes by the station to give Arjun a good scolding for the work he did. The commissioner is riled up to see Arjun in civilian clothes and not showing any respect to the commissioner once he walks in. As the banter between Arjun and the commissioner begins, there is a news flash that says that the culprits that were released by Arjun were arrested by another police station. The culprits were followed by other police officers after their release, and the culprits straight up walked into a den that stored plenty of drugs. A drug bust of this scale again puts Arjun in the good books of his superiors, especially his commissioner.
Arjun and his friend are livid to see his job is now not in danger. Arjun is going the extra mile to make sure he loses his job. He has no interest in helping people, and he does not want any of the goodwill or glory that comes with it. His only way out is to get suspended, followed by being dismissed. Once that is done, he can somehow convince his father to let him take up some other job. Just like the incident above, Arjun runs into plenty of incidents which result in good news for the police as they end up catching the culprit, which again casts Arjun in a good light. At one point, unknown to him, several bombs were stopped from going off at various places because Arjun stalled the criminals. He is yet again made a hero out of nothing. He does not even remember when he stopped these terrorists from carrying out the tasks. Yet again Arjun finds himself in trouble of his own doing. All he wants is the exact opposite of what he is expected to do as a police officer. He desperately wants to get out.
Only one person who is getting severely affected by Arjun getting untoward popularity as a police officer doing the right thing is the Home Minister Kantham Byreddy. Kantham is aware that in the upcoming elections, people will surely not vote for his party. The man is an influential figure, and corrupt too. He also has the chief minister under his thumb. Kantham Byreddy’s drug operation and his plan to carry out blasts across the city are ruined by Arjun. The minister is keen to know what the man is up to. Kantham plans to win the upcoming elections because he wants to stay in power. As a Home Minister, he summons Arjun to have one on one with the man, hoping Arjun would come under his payroll. Kantham wants to win these elections by hook or by crook. Arjun, on the other hand, plans to tick off the Home Minister in the hope he would lose his job and he does as instructed by his friend.
Arjun lets the minister know that he had tipped off the income tax department about him. The minister immediately moves all his money away just in the nick of time. Here again Arjun in the hope of getting dismissed, the minister gets impressed by the fact that Arjun let him know in advance about the raid. He agrees to fulfill Arjun’s request, since the man’s only request is to get fired. Minister Byreddy finds this request odd but soon agrees to go ahead with Arjun’s request. Arjun is elated to know his wish will be fulfilled. Arjun is glad to have met the minister because he did not know it would be this easy to lose a job he loathes with every cell of his skin. Minister Byreddy also realizes the man is not a big threat as he had assumed, and he would gladly pass an order to dismiss Arjun, just that he will have to find a legit reason to dismiss the man.
The Home Minister loses a bunch of files, stolen by a police officer that has information that could implicate him. The man is chased by the minister’s goon when the minister has the idea of letting Arjun carry out the deed and making it an encounter leading to an inquiry against him for killing the said police officer. This will surely lead to Arjun getting dismissed. The Home Minister hopes he can get away with this crime by making it about a police officer killing another police officer. There is no way his involvement could be traced back. Arjun agrees to do the job, and he ends up shooting his father instead of the man he is supposed to kill, and the intended target is run over by a speeding truck.
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Arjun’s father goes into a coma because of the bullet wounds. The man is shocked to see what happened to his father, and that too because of the crazy job he took on the word of the Home Minister. Seeing his father in this condition puts Arjun in some sort of existential crisis and brings back all the memories he has of his father where he had always told Arjun to be an honest police officer. Arjun suddenly feels overwhelmed because he cannot afford to lose his father this way. He was the one who accidentally shot him, and if his father passes away, he will never be able to live with it. This makes him change his mind and he requests the minister to give him back his job. Arjun is told that he was never officially a police officer because of a clerical error. Arjun is shocked again. This would mean he would be tried as a criminal and not as a police officer. He requests the minister to get him the police job, but the minister refuses to do so. The minister is not sure what Arjun would be capable of, and he cannot take the risk of hiring him all over again. Arjun goes on a revenge spree and starts working as a mock police officer and helping people. He is doing this not only to get back to the minister, but because he wants to fulfill his father’s wishes to never let go of the people who want help. He is termed a vigilante by the police, but Arjun does not stop there.
Once his father is out of the coma, he learns from him that the man who was killed by the truck was supposed to be joining as an SI after his selections. But Byreddy got involved and manipulated the final list, adding 3000 of his people who did not carry any of the tests. The minister did that because he knew he would be losing the election, and the only way to stay in power and win the election would be to get many police recruits who would work for him and help him in booth capturing and rigging the elections. The then DGP refused to stick to the plan and Byreddy killed the man and installed his own man to do the dirty work for him. The man revealed all of this to Arjun’s father because he is about to retire and would like to help the man. Turns out the man who was killed by the speeding truck was a victim of this scam, and the file he was carrying is the only proof left to implicate Minister Kantham Byreddy. This is how Arjun realizes how his name got involved in the scam. Arjun is now in a vengeful mood to make sure all original 3000 candidates are reinstated. Arjun begins by blackmailing the minister by letting him know that he is aware of this recruitment scam. Minister does not budge because he is sure Arjun has no evidence to prove Minister Byreddy is involved in this scam. Byreddy has set the files on fire, which would mean there is no physical evidence of it. Arjun tries to kidnap the DGP of the city police and gives him an offer that will save the DGP’s neck. The DGP reluctantly agrees to bring down Byreddy when he is killed by Byreddy’s henchman. Arjun was very close to nabbing Byreddy by getting the DGP on his side but with him gone, the man is at a loss. Arjun is being impatient and rightly so because he wants to get rid of Byreddy right before the election in the hope that with him gone he won’t have any trouble getting his job back too.
Arjun finally uses the RTI Act to get information about how many were finally selected for the job. He does plenty of tally work, but nothing works in his favor because he comes to know that Byreddy has manipulated the digital data as well. Finally, he tallies the final list with people who had applied for the job, and this time he cracks the case and finds evidence that the 3000 that were hired never even applied to join the police force. This would be a big blotch on Byreddy’s election campaign. Byreddy is sure this time it would be the end of him, and he kidnaps Arjun’s father to get his hands on all the evidence Arjun has against him. Arjun, knowing he cannot let his father be harmed, reaches the spot to rescue and make a final negotiation with Byreddy. Byreddy was glad to see Arjun here because he knew the man’s trigger point. Arjun is devoted to his father and the man would do anything to make sure his father is not harmed. The deal Arjun offers is to have Byreddy reinstate the 3000 original candidates to the police force, with Byreddy being allowed to keep his power. Arjun discreetly shows him an app that would help Byreddy convert votes for another party into votes for his party. Byreddy is happy to have come across this technology and agrees to the deal. Byreddy comes across as a powerful yet gullible man because he was quick enough to fall for Arjun’s scam. Byreddy would do anything to remain in power and fall for scams. It is ironic that the scammer fell for a scam not of his own design.
A few days later, the election result did not come out in favor of Byreddy even with the app. The app turns out to be a dummy app that did not convert any of the votes in the favor of his party. Byreddy loses the election and Arjun submits all the evidence he had against Minister Byreddy. Arjun’s father Venkat Ratnam retires with the highest of honors and Arjun is recruited as SI through a special recruitment process as reward for his contribution to safeguarding the police force and its dignity. Arjuns went from hating to joining the force to being honored with utmost dignity by the same force. He and his father are elated to have been honored by the police force.
Meanwhile, 3000 appointment letters have already been sent, the Minister has no option but to succumb to the arrest orders, and he is no longer in power. He can only hope to come out and exact revenge. The last scene of “Meter” has the commissioner, Arjun’s top boss, letting the minister know that he has 3000 outstanding warrants against him, which is a world record. This will not just make it hard for Byreddy to get out anytime soon, it will make sure the man stays out of power. People like Byreddy should be put behind bars for good, and it took a personal setback for Arjun to take things seriously. If his father had not gotten injured, Arjun would not have taken up his cop job seriously. His father was in turn responsible for the man Arjun became. A responsible cop.
If only ridiculous has another synonym. Well, it does. Meter is preposterous, outrageous, absurd, and problematic to the core. The screenplay and story do not make sense after a point because the movie just feels like something that is out of the imagination of the writer. Even the most commercial movie elements do not work here for a reason which is the poor direction by Ramesh Kaduri. The fact that they used acid attacks as a way of comic relief just because a woman is doing it to a man. It is not funny. So not funny. Also using the lead female character in this film only for the sake of eye candy is such an old trope. Many storytellers making good commercial films are giving strong arcs to female leads. Ramesh Kaduri could learn something from them. The only aspect that somehow made sense in the film is the comedy. I could sense writers put an effort to add satire troupe in the humor but again it was just not enough to keep the film intact. Overall, this film is highly unwatchable. You can skip it.
Meter is a Telugu language film, now streaming on Netflix with subtitles.