Movie Review: Mana Oori Ramayanam (2016)
Cast: Prakash Raaj, Priyamani, Acchyuth Kumar, Rangayana Raghu, Prudhvi and Satyadev Kancharana.
Directed by Prakash
Music Composed by Ilayaraja
Story by Joy Mathew
Screenplay by Gopisetti Ramanna
Edited by Sreekar Prasad
Cinematography by Mukesh
Censor Certificate: UA & Runtime: 110 Minutes
Since the release of Joy Mathew’s Malayalam film ‘Shutter’ in 2012, it has been remade in Marathi (Shutter, 2014) and Tamil (Oru Naal Iravil, 2015). The latest is Prakash Raj’s Telugu adaptation. In each remake (except for Shutter Marathi version), the story doesn’t change much, right from the opening credits to the way it ends, except for actors. In the recent retelling Prakash Raj remains nearly faithful to the original, making only minor changes to the script.
In Prakash Raj’s film, Lal’s orotund, middle aged Rasheed gives way to Prakash Raj as the sculpted, kurtha wearing Bhoojangam, and the green environs of Kerala are replaced by the equally lush remote village. He even heads cultural committee in Shri Rama Navami festival. He is a hot headed man, who is constantly at logger heads with his wife and elder daughter. His paternal mindset makes him see red whenever his daughter interacts with male college mates. Meantime, Bhoojangam has a good rapport with young rickshaw driver Siva (Satyadeva) and also has a group of theatrical friends, with whom he holds fuddling sessions in one of his empty stores. But one nightout gets him locked inside the store with a prostitute Susheela (Priyamani). On the other hand, a film maker Garudagiri Srinivasa Rao (Prudhvi), trying to make his comeback movie, misplaces his bounded script before final narration. Where will the tale lead? forms the rest of the storyline.
Like a loyal transcriber, writer Gopisetti Ramanna and Prakash Raj jots down all the important points, also adding a few lash-ups of his own, but fails to give the flavor to the story, thus leaving it a little jejune and savorless. The original script hits all the right notes in ‘societal honor and pride in life’. There is also the question ‘How much can we bend for these shallow norms’ that comes with protecting it. What makes the film even better is the way Joy conveys themes in the garb of humour, and later an emotional connects. But the raillery and stress that the Lal, Vinay and Sreenivasan share in Malayalam film is missing between the trio in the remake. The feeling of pride being shaken by what happens in Prakash Raj’s life is not adequately expressed either. There are even some constant questionable moments in terms of logics and behavior of few characters. The track featuring Shiva and Srinivasa Rao fails to bring the fresh feel of the original.
But the biggest issue is Prakash trying to include references to Ramayanam in the film and missing the innocence and hardcore upper main character – (Spoiler Short Explanation) Ram is the mask that today’s Ravanna tries to wear for society and every Ram (Prakash) is Ravanna in Family. But for Ram societal norms and pride matter, while for Ravanna nothing-no one matters. So when Ram faced Ravanna tries to flirt with Vaidehi (Priyamani) like Surpanaka, Ram feared in him but Ravanna didn’t die yet. Both try to battle for Pride and Upman ship. Finally when Vibhishina (the daughter) rescues Ravana, Ram overpowers him. On the other hand, Hanuman (Satya) tried to save the image of Ram and Sugreeva tries to help him for his own good. The final twist is Surpanaka became Vaidehi in helping Sugreeva to attain financial freedom with the help of Ram. But this intended mood doesn’t translate much and the empathy factor becomes inconsistent. That’s not to say that tediousness takes over. Some of the initial moments work pretty fine, when two different individuals with contrasting stakes reach out for each other for selfish reasons.
Performances are the key here. Prakash Raj fits in well with his intense and smoldering persona. The character Boojangam was tailor made for Prakash Raj as he preformed it great finesse. Priyamani was last seen in ‘Chandi’, her acting was well timed with some crisp lines which made few scenes quite interesting. She was missed for a long time on Tollywood screen, thank goodness she decided to get back on wagon. Satyadev is very loyal to Shiva’s character. Rests of the characters are fine in all sequences.
Coming to other technical aspects, Cinematography is pretty decent and the village is shown with some natural lighting and that enhanced the film’s atmosphere. Background score by Ilayaraja garu is much more than songs itself as it’s highly impressive in sequences including Prakash Raj and Priyamani. A tighter edit with emotional dialogues would have served the film much better. Production Values of ‘Duet Movies’ are alright.
‘Mana Oori Ramayanam’ is Prakash Raj’s 4th remake as a director. It had a very decent plot, but he couldn’t materialize on it. This is formulaic, misses the innocence, emotional connect of the original and ultimately forgettable though the excellent cast does their best that they can with the uninspired material, making it barely worth the ticket price.
All in all, Mana Oori Ramayanam works well if you haven’t seen the original. Otherwise, this remake might fall a tad short.
Survi Review: 1.5/5 (0.5 more for the effort behind Mythological touch)