With the end of part 2, Gandhi (Chiranjeevi) is faced with a peculiar hurdle in the form of Hanumanth (Gollapudi Maruthi Rao) and his wife Priyamvada (Silk Smitha) who come and stay in his house with the reluctant nod of his friend and guide Lakshmi (Suhasini). Why did Lakshmi have reservations about her own brother Hanumanth? The only reason for her doubt on him is because of his money minded and opportunistic nature which becomes clear with the director showing him joining hands with the antagonist Ram Mohan Rao (Rao Gopala Rao).
Ram Mohan Rao tries to target Gandhi by sending Hanumanth and his wife in order to know what our dear hero is up to. In the mean time, we get to know more about a beautiful character Priyamvada who is an unhappy wife and falls for Gandhi’s individuality and charm. Silk Smitha’s brilliant grace is clearly evident in a dream song which she imagines about Gandhi in the form of Manase Maikam- an interesting song which speaks about the unheard wishes of a woman. The song has the makings of a Spanish item number which is well ahead of its times and the timeless composition gets more wow factor thanks to Silk Smitha’s presence in it!
The story takes a very interesting turn when Gandhi accidentally meets an unemployed youth Vidyarthi (Rajendra Prasad) who is in heights of frustration about the education and job system in India and gives a monologue about the same to our hero. Gandhi instantly connects to the frustration and agony faced by this youngster and requests Vidyarthi about his past. Vidyarthi reveals that he happened to work for Harika Industries which belongs to Ram Mohan Rao. Gandhi now devises a plan to rope in Vidyarthi in secret and takes enough care not to reveal that they are indeed a team. The real twist happens when Vidyarthi approaches our antagonist for a loan to establish a new factory which in turn is entirely Gandhi’s master plan.
Ram Mohan Rao believes Vidyarthi to be their own associate and readily grants the loan. He also obliges to come for the inaugural event along with his daughter Harika and gets shocked to see Gandhi there. Gandhi takes a moment of triumph and naturally, Harika starts admiring the clarity of thought our hero has.
Moreover, Gandhi starts thinking about the leaking of every plan of his to Ram Mohan Rao. It is when Priyamvada arrives in the scene by trying to strike a deal with Gandhi. She expresses her desire for Gandhi which leads to gross misunderstanding by the hero. An upset Priyamvada reveals her sad story by saying that her husband is impotent and it was only Gandhi who looked at her like an individual and with respect. She also discloses the fact that her husband is a traitor and he is the one leaking all the financial secrets to Ram Mohan Rao. This again shows the brilliance of Yandamoori Veerendranath in crafting memorable and brilliant female characters and Kodandandarami Reddy’s prowess in being faithful to the book.
Gandhi now plans a final brilliant stroke by applying for a scooter license and orders his engineering team to design a new scooter which gives more mileage and economical. Hanumanth naturally smuggles off the original plan to Ram Mohan Rao leading to more drama. Ram Mohan Rao also tries to create rift between his daughter Harika and Gandhi but the plan fails terribly. This again shows Harika’s strong willed nature and the unfaltering love for our hero’s individuality. With the deadline approaching close, Gandhi manages to get the scooter license and publishes an advertisement for the scooter booking fee as well.
Hanumanth now displays his cunning antics by creating a rift between Gandhi’s factory employees and the owner and Lakshmi happens to empathize with the workers instead of taking Gandhi’s side. This brings more distance between the bonding between Gandhi and Lakshmi because the latter starts to think that Gandhi is becoming more obsessed with money and has transformed much bad. She decides to fight against Gandhi and become pro laborers by announcing a strike at a crucial moment.
As the climax approaches, Lakshmi continues in her path by supporting the laborers and fighting against Gandhi’s ideologies and Ram Mohan Rao realizes that his failure is inevitable. He plans to take off Harika from the town and almost at the same time Lakshmi gets injured in the factory strike. Gandhi is pulled from all directions in personal as well as professional front. But the brilliance of Gandhi’s character and practicality brings him out of all hurdles and he finally gets the 50 Lakh mark ready.
He tries to give a final word to Ram Mohan Rao by saying that money is just a part of life and not at the cost of a life. He also says that he was never interested in marrying Harika just for the sake of money or bets which breaks the latter’s heart. Harika also realizes that Lakshmi is in love with Gandhi in a dramatic fashion by reading a letter and walks away gracefully from Gandhi’s life.
The film ends on a happy note with the differences clearing between Gandhi and Lakshmi and them happily getting married and living by believing in hard work.
A very special mention should be made for the film’s production values and never boring moments in the form of peppy numbers by Ilaiyaraaja. The film also makes us realize that a person’s intelligence and abilities score better than just earning money. It says that a person’s determination and strong will is the greatest treasure which any person can have.
Kudos to the team Challenge which made such a memorable film high on moral as well as commercial values!
Challenge will remain to be a cult movie in Chiranjeevi’s career for its honesty of making and flawless script which doesn’t falter at any moment of time.