Friday, 29 October 2010

Movie Review: RAKTA CHARITRA I: Drowned in violence

Rakta Charitra chronicles the blood-soaked rise of Partala Ravi during the 1980's caste tensions in Andhra Pradesh. The names are suitably, understandably altered. The opening credits declare - All characters of this film are fictional...followed by the declaration in red - Based on a true story. So much for deliberate irony.

R for Revenge
The battleground is Anantpur, where a powerful local politician Narasimha Reddy is instigated by his discontent party worker Nagamani (Kota Srinivasa Rao) to kill Veerbhadra (Rajendra Gupta), his (lower caste - bleeped in the movie) trusted aide. The aide is also the leader of his community and is promised tickets for the upcoming election for his people by Reddy. This is not to be.
Accompanied by loud, unforgivable background music, the aide's elder son Shankar (Sushant Singh) goes on a murder-spree against Nagamani and his gang, and thus, vengeance is born. The younger son, Pratap (Vivek Oberoi), is forced back from his city education to the battleground. Pratap is soon sucked in to the vortex of violence, as Shankar is brutally killed. Pushed to a corner with death looming, Ravi,  late father's followers in tow slays Reddy, Nagamani and his demonic, psychotic son Bhukka (Abimanyu Singh).

Grim as the setting is, Ram Gopal Varma marks a return to decent (if not subtle) form, with disturbing yet essential scenes of blood and violence. There are sickles slashing out fountain blood, bullet holes gorging out, drills boring skulls, and an axe brandished with savagery. A grayish tint fills all scenes, there is hardly any sunshine, very apt.

Rakta Charitra I is not a movie I would like to watch again, though Varma has crafted it sincerely, technical edge adding punch and without many commercial compromises. The director's raspy voice over hinges between arresting and mockery. If only he had not overlooked the criminally insane background score and most importantly, added textures to the violence.

Sturdy performances
Vivek Oberoi is efficient, but it is Abimanyu Singh's crazy lunatic act that haunts. Shatrughan Sinha's minister take makes for an entertaining cameo, his dialogues are slightly over the top ( "Topic over," he thunders, and all turn submissive) from a otherwise well-sketched array of characters. The woman characters are expectantly given less screen space. The intensity slackens towards the end, with Pratap depicted as a kind of Godfather character, and shades of Varma's own Sarkar. That we do not get some powerful final scenes is ensured, as the film is wrapped up with glimpses of the second part (releasing on November 19, 2010) which will mark Tamil star Suriya's Hindi film debut.

Chilling / Overdone?
A pillion-riding woman is carried off by Bhukka's men, like prey in a bird's talons.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Movie Review: Ramayan - The Epic: Low qualityanimation, dull storytelling

The only saving grace in the latest adaptation, in animation, of the great Indian epic - Ramayan, is the director's knack for architecture and locales as is evident in the depiction of Ayodhya, Lanka and Kishkinda. The rest is all frustratingly average, the non-expressive faces, the lack of depth in the characters, the brief dull fight sequences, the events displayed as a formality than with any cinematic ambition. The voices of Manoj Bajpayee, Juhi Chawla, Ashutosh Rana (Ravan) and Mukesh Rishi (Hanuman) are all effective, but the dull depiction lets them down.

Such potentially arresting scenarios - Hanuman's burning of Lanka, Indrajit's fight with Laxman, the chase for the golden deer, Jatayu's valiant death, Ram's slaying of Ravan, the Sugreev-Bali fight are all pushed away like some beginner's course in animation. The background music, grating in parts, doesn't help too. A 100-minute cold dish, this is one of the most testing movies ever.

Instead get hold of...
Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama (1992) - a Japanese/ Indian animation version of the epic. The dubbed Hindi version is a treat too with the voices of Amrish Puri, Arun Govil (The1980's live-action TV serial  Ram) and a lively soundtrack by Vanraj Bhatia.