Sukumar Bandreddi’s Rangasthalam (2018) Movie Review
Rangasthalam Movie Review
Star Cast: Ram Charan, Samantha Akkineni, Aadhi Pinisetty, Prakash Raj, Jagapathi Babu, Amit Sharma, Anasuya Bharadwaj, Pooja Hegde, Sr Naresh and Rohini.
Screenplay & Direction: Sukumar Bandreddi
Music Composed by Devi Sri Prasad
Cinematography by Raman Rathnavelu
Edited by Navin Nooli
Censor Certificate: U/A & Runtime: 179 Minutes
Normally, any filmmaker starts off his film with the most important scene to indulge us into the drama. Few prefer Anaganaga O Raju (Once Upon a time…) style but Sukumar is sort of filmmaker who wants to tell the most important point in his story with the very first scene. When Ram Charan is really introduced as Chitti Babu, a happy-go-lucky, Sound Engineer of Rangasthalam village, we see him trying to find a Krishna Tracchu (poisonous snake) among the bushes saying that it has bitten him once before. So, does this scene have any significance in the story? Let’s talk about that later.
Not any filmmaker is God, even though he or she is called ‘Creator‘. Filmmakers are more of reflectors of society and the changes it is undergoing with time. Sukumar in a day and age, where modernization is seen as new feudal business system, tries to take us back to real feudal days, 80’s, when Zamindari system of 50’s and 60’s, is replaced by power hungry big landlords. Many farmers’ had to fight hard against new ‘legal robbing‘ by rebelling. This triggered youth to join Naxal movement and become politicians around 80’s and early 90’s.
The software boom changed the mindset of youth and slowly, the matter of democratic feudality became an ancient history. Still, it exists but in another shape and form. As I am not a general news reporter and this is not about National Integrity and Farmer problems, I will stop here. You may discuss the issues further at any other time if you think that is important too.
Coming back to Rangasthalam, Sukumar has an age-old problem of thinking in one direction and trying to reach that by hook or crook. For that he may sacrifice characterizations, he may sacrifice well-developed scenes, but he will say what he wants to say, for sure. Here too, we see such overflow of concentration on one point and one point of view precisely and that kills the entirety of his story. The emotional core feels little too gullible and very forced to ‘make’ us feel that emotion, rather than organically building us to that moment where he unknowingly ‘feel’ it.
He is more adamant in that and in this story too, he wants you to feel for one character and give you a shock reveal. So, even if it doesn’t make complete sense, he will do it. He will ‘make’ you ‘feel‘ it. You have to be emotionally invested with him at that point even though he doesn’t really prepare you for it. He wants a twist, you smell from far away and hope it is revealed in a mind-boggling way, as he is capable of doing so. But he reveals it in a way that you are forced to understand his logic and you have to accept it. No other option is left for you.
If you think about it and say, it doesn’t really sit well enough, the people who love it try to squash you as you’re seen a person with an agenda rather than a person open for debate and discussion. Yes, it is a rant. It ends here The more frustrating thing about Sukumar is that he is good sticking to initial characterizations of a character but not good at organically changing their arc over time. You won’t get an explanation for why a person becomes suddenly borderline psychotic? There are signs of him being obsessed with one goal and one goal only, but his character which is highly eccentric suddenly matures as person accepting ‘the gift‘ his brother gave him and then he is shown being able to walk from a murder spot from which he can be arrested easily, even after days or years. We won’t even get a proper reveal for twist too. All we get is random shots and random motivations. Suddenly, an MLA who is silent for 20 years on an opposition party President, decides to help Kumar Babu. Power hunger persons can never sit idle for so long and this is pure lazy writing. Also, for 30 years President is able to win without an opposition, an MLA is more powerful than a village punchayat president, what makes him so strong that even MLA cannot touch him? If he is so powerful, then he will be having some high connections. Rather than trying to hide somewhere in a city or another place, why is he hiding in a tall grass place, where normally snakes live? Well, Directors connects the first scene snake with President here but that doesn’t sit in reality here.
Naresh, father of Kumar and Chitti, who knows only how to be oppressed and suppressed for so many long years needs to be the example for older generation lack of knowledge and unity to attack a guy like President. Rather, he doesn’t come into the story much. Even if it is perspective of Ram Charan, he will be trying to understand his father’s anguish and his mindset that gor accustomed to being exploited for longer years. We don’t get that perspective vs perspective discussion here. Not even a hint. Sukumar once again tries to create many characters and tell his story in a justifiable way including them from Chitti Babu’s perspective. Hence, we miss the anguish of a lover, who got ready to marry, the groom her father chose. We get an emotional monologue of Ram Charan and she is convinced to go against her father. What is the point of her character in the film? Chitti Babu needs a heroine, she is her. The director even creates characters like Rangammattha but never use complete potential of his writing to improve on the characters he creates. He just takes the story randomly to the direction that it was expected to go by him.
We see a character, a lead, behaving psychotically and terrifying even his own love, by the end frame. Is he trying to give a message that a tamed beast in the lead as become wild again? Why is this beast that doesn’t really care even for the person he loves until the love is reciprocated as he wishes, tries to sing a song deep, about changing their loyalties?
The explanation is not there. You have to assume that as he is a hero, he knows what is right and what is wrong, even though he never tries to even remotely challenge the wrong for right ever. Well, this more personal motivation is not wrong but it needs a little more convincing and real emotions than forced ones. There is no room for superficial and artificial emotions when you need a more realistic drama. It needs to build organically and if that asks for few more moments between characters that are not so important, it should be able to provide it. Unfortunately, Sukumar wants you to feel it and you have to feel it.
Don’t get me wrong, there are positives like Ram Charan‘s performance where his expressive eyes are highlighted and Ratnavelu‘s visuals compelled by soothing music of Devi Sri Prasad. Even though Devi Sri Prasad gives good music, Sukumar doesn’t really give him good situations and he doesn’t seem to care much for a lead scene. It can start in any possible way, he sees and that’s it. He is a craftsman and has a vision, but his writing lets him down more often than he thinks it does.
Rangasthalam as a film depends on cliches to work in its favor with the performances of the actors. As the story is as old as Rojulu Marayi, Peddha Manushulu, and many more films, we don’t see the factor in it. The execution in some scenes doesn’t really seem like a good plan in motion. Like the twisted revenge of Chitti Babu, the movie to twists over itself after a solid start due to lack of good supporting characters to the lead Chitti Babu. As Sound Engineer, he did not just water the fields of his village people, he even watered the ideas of Sukumar which couldn’t grow to be more useful than random grasslands.