Rangamarthanda: Lonely Peak
Star Cast: Prakash Raj, Ramya Krishna, Brahmanandam, Ali Reza, Aadarsh Balakrishnan, Anasuya Bharadwaj, and Shivathmika Rajasekhar
Written by Mahesh Manjrekar Rangamarthanda Review
Music Composed by Ilaiyaraaja
Directed by Krishna Vamsi
People say, “It is Lonely at the peak“. When you spend all your life making a career and think that you have achieved enough respect from society for people to accept you as you’re but they like the fake you and not the real you. That’s when you feel all alone. That’s why it feels worthless to spend your life with you and only you. Natsamrat film revolves around a person who acquired respect as a stage artist and believed in it but then his own family doesn’t respect him enough to let him be. Rangamarthanda tries to bring the same emotion but feels to stitch an episodic narration in a convincing manner. Natsamrat takes its time to establish why we should be interested to know about Ganpat Rao, but Rangamarthanda fakes it and tries to keep us away from Raghava Rao. Yes, Krishna Vamsi in great form, would have made this an artistic beauty. But he missed his mark throughout the film without any question. Still, he found great actors like Prakash Raj and Brahmanandam supporting the great scenes from the original with their performances. Where Krishna Vamsi added his personal thoughts, there the movie failed to even engage. Rangamarthanda Review
In Natsamrat, Ganpat Rao is a theatre artist, from a flourishing theatre group. Marathi theatre is still alive and in Mumbai, you get to see even renowned actors basically living on performing at the theatre. But in Telugu states, unfortunately, theatre or stage drama went through a slow death in the 1980s. My friend’s father, who played 100 dramas on stage, retired to a Bank Job at 28. A great theatre group like Surabhi Nataka Mandali or Natya Mandali is now dependent on funds from wealthy donors to survive. Except at Nandi Natakotsavam, we don’t see major groups travelling around the country or world taking Parishat Natakam, Padya Natakam, Gadya Natakam, or Prayoga Natakam. Gollapudi Maruthi Rao, Paruchuri Brothers, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Tanikella Bharani, MS Narayana, Dharmavarapu Subramanyam, LB Sriram, Satyamurthy, Jandhyala have come from Theatre to Films as theatres started generating low income. Now, Paruchuri Brothers and Gollapudi Maruti Rao [till he was alive], supported aspiring drama, stage, and theatre actors by producing stage dramas and conducting specialized competitions.
Krishna Vamsi kind of a director, should not have forgotten this. Natsamrat talks about loneliness and also about the respect that an actor earns and loses. It is almost like Raja Harishchandra suffering for trying to be truthful throughout his life when one sage like Vishwamitra wanted to Test him. Ganpat Rao resides on a footpath as he doesn’t want to go back to his kids, as he doesn’t have his best friend and wife with him, and he got disillusioned by their disrespect towards him and his art. Rangamarthanda misses this point. Siddharth in the original becomes an audience character who engages us in the story of this one particular man, who looks almost mentally disturbed. But he isn’t. He had to face grave depression in his life after living a peak. Krishna Vamsi tries to say that his kids did love him but they did not learn to respect him. But very vaguely. A daughter can never question her father about theft unless she believes he can. A son will never say his father to control his tongue unless he thinks, he is as sharp-mouthed as he shouldn’t be.
Take a scene from Ninne Pelladatha , a simple and old-school story film. A friend of 40 years slaps another friend. This one tries to walk away silently and the entire family comes to convince him. But when his friend says Sorry, he immediately forgets everything. See the brilliance of Krishna Vamsi in that scene. You feel the organic flow of each one trying to convince him in their own way. You feel like being a part of that group and stopping him. Here, when Anasuya tries to yell, you just see Prakash Raj walking away, and we move on to another scene. That is the difference between a Krishna Vamsi committed to his scene, presentation, and dramatic genius and a doppelganger, who made Rangamarthanda. This is a story of a man who breathes art for a living and getting humiliated rather than being respected which should’ve hurt us. Not make us say, “Okay, what’s next?” The humiliation that the art that never let him suffer is delivered by his kids, whom he thought are his heart.
They break into pieces and only his art dares to join those pieces alas broken mirrors never join. Natsamrat projects the greatness of theatre and actors who live to perform on stage. Rangamarthanda starts out as a film about an actor and ends up being a film about a disillusioned father. Ganpat Rao lives so that he can still find some peace with his art and he dies, only his abode burns to ashes. Rangamarthanda doesn’t dwell on that aspect of Raghava Rao for us to feel for him. Brahmanandam did a great job in performing as an actor with major depression and who succumbs to loneliness. His scene as Karna is whistle worthy. But why should we connect with him and at what level should his loneliness be understood by us? It needed a scene like the Old Man hanging himself after being released from prison, in Shawshank Redemption . It needed a scene like same Brahmanandam’s Amma  film, the climax monologue. Where his plight is known to us and we feel for him rather we clap or whistle for his brilliance in performance.
Also, Ilaiyaraaja music doesn’t fit into the scheme of things as much as we want the contrary to be true. Dialogues in this film are good but they don’t stay with us all the time. Few lines stick and land perfectly. Few just come and go. Krishna Vamsi’s choice of editing patterns, lighting, production design, and neo-realistic approach in a few scenes don’t really stand up to his reputation as a filmmaker. Prakash Raj gives the movie his all. But Anasuya Bharadwaj, Shivatmika Rajasekhar, and Rahul Sipligunj are the worst casting choices for even bad scene writing and construction. Natsamrat tries to ignite the inner appreciator in you for theatre, a dying art form. While Rangamarthanda tells you that a great theatre actor died alone even when his family is around him. If you can understand the difference between both statements, you will understand where Rangamarthanda fails and where Natsamrat scores. Natsamrat is like a Shakespeare play that describes a grave tragedy with all the flamboyance while Rangamarthanda is like a one-act play that aspires to be great but ends up being an effort with more spirit and less skill. A peak is always lonely, many people try to mount it and become victorious but the peak never tries to lose itself to them or others. Rangamarthanda aspires to be that peak of an actor and his tale of loneliness but then it ends up losing oxygen as it is driven away by a snowstorm of creative-less ideas from the once creative director.
Theatrical Trailer: Rangamarthanda Review