Sukumar schmaltzes through his movies. The highbrowed themes in his movies don’t appeal to many. While his fans consider his movies akin to Jesus walking on water, detractors think otherwise.
The above lines might not make sense to many people because they are like Sukumar’s films: they need to be explained to make sense to people. Probably, in his introspection, he did realise this as he changed his tack.
When Rangasthalam’s working poster came out it was obvious that it was a period movie set in 1980’s. As time wore on, we came to know that the movie was set in one of the Godavari districts.
The movie begins with a shot of Ram Charan furiously cycling away and being late in saving Prakash Raj from an accident. While Prakash Raj slips into a coma, Ram Charan religiously attends to his needs even though Prakash Raj’s family gives up on him.
The movie slips into a flashback mode after that. We are introduced to a village called Rangasthalam on the banks of river Godavari. In the initial scenes, we see nothing that one would associate with a typical Sukumar movie. He is bang-on with the milieu and the actors that form the second rung: I say, actors that form the second rung because these people get no more than a couple of scenes. These actors nail the accent and the dressing.
Ram Charan’s character is introduced to us as one with a hearing impediment. As happens with the movies with stars in it, they usually have some other power to nullify their handicaps. So, he has the power to lip read, although it comes with some effort and time. This ability is what leads us to the unfolding of the final twist. The fact that Sukumar nailed the milieu comes forth once again in the way Ram Charan’s character, Chitti Babu, introduces himself to Samantha’s character.
Their village is ruled by a tyrant (Jagapathi Babu). He is elected to the post of president, unopposed, for 30 years. A few deaths in the village, passed off as suicides, are actually murders ordered for by the president. He has the society of his village indulging in malpractice so that he can accumulate the money given by the schemes of the government.
Aadi, a Dubai return, playing Ram Charan’s elder brother, sees the injustice meted out to the villagers and decides to stand for them by filing nomination for the post of president. Samantha proves to be the fodder that combusts him. Anasuya plays a character that serves no purpose to the movie in general. Someone had to keep the glamour oozing when the heroine plays a deglamorised role, no? Also, she serves the purpose for being the butt of some entendre in the movie.
There are a couple of scenes that must have given the director the emotional high. It doesn’t quite have the effect because the movie seems unnecessarily prolonged. So, though these scenes give you the emotional high, it leaves you with the feeling of, ‘One swallow doesn’t a summer make’
The two scenes as I mentioned give emotional high because of the situations surrounding it. The first happens to be the scene where a person saved by Ram Charan asks him how did he know he was going to commit suicide even though he couldn’t hear what was told? Ram Charan says that though he can’t hear him, he could see the tears in his eyes that told him something was wrong. That scene told us that while Ram Charan was deaf to the sufferings of the people, he wasn’t blind to their sufferings. Another scene was where he rips into one of the henchmen of President while there is a Harikatha going on in the background. The fact that it doesn’t stop when Ram Charan is laying it into him was nice and allows us to understand.
Instead Sukumar delves on how people don’t know the name of the president and shows up it as a twist when the brothers call the president by name.
I don’t know the shooting sequence of the songs or the scenes, but I would like to believe that Ram Charan began by trusting the director and as the movie went on , he also bought into his character as the director wanted him to. I say so because in some of the scenes we have Ram Charan appearing with Sandals et al and as the movie wears on, we see him without the sandals in many scenes. You hear that this is a career best performance by Ram Charan. That, I feel is a disservice to him. If anything, one can call it as a career defining performance. The word ‘career best’ is bandied about too often these days and is suffering in the same way as ‘good and great’ in sports.
Ram Charan acted in a movie called Orange. I felt that the movie could’ve done without the final 15 minutes. In the same way, I feel that this movie could’ve done without the issue that’s revealed in the twist. It gives raise to feeling of an incomplete movie rather than one closes all the threads. That thread is touched upon in one of the early conversations that Samantha has with Ram Charan when she asks him, “Meeru Evitlu” (What are you?)
I felt the best performance in the movie was by Samantha. She zeroes in on her expressions bit and may go a long way in undoing her expressions from SVSC. She’s a character that deserved a lot more screen time considering the length of the movie.
Aadhi, Anasuya, Rohini, Jagapathi Babu, Prakash Raj and Brahmaji do what’s expected of them.
DSP has a tough job on the music front, because his BGM is racy when the movie is not and yet, he makes it look apt. More than the songs, he deserves a pat on the back for the Background music.
The cinematography is good and does a good job of showing the surroundings of the village.
There is a fight in the bushes which serves as an indicator of how the movie could’ve been. When Ram Charan is brutalising the people that come to murder his brother, I never felt anywhere near the same feeling as the one when Karthi is brutalising the villains in Naa Peru Surya. There is gore in both the scenes, but only in one of the movies does it come across as gore. It’s an indicator of emotional investment. I couldn’t do it. Hope others can.
Verdict: Not a path-breaking or career-turning movie as some would have you believe. It’s going to be on Amazon Prime. You can take breaks while watching it as well
Image courtesy : idlebrain.com