Raatchasi movie cast: Jyotika, Hareesh Peradi, Poornima Bhagyaraj
Raatchasi movie director: Sy Gowthamraj
Raatchasi movie: 2 stars
Raatchasi is the kind of film that every parent or teacher would love to watch. It is also this ‘karuththu padam’ (message film) where you get one ‘moral lecture’ after another, resulting in a nugget of wisdom. I am not saying it is a bad thing—but for the ‘message-heavy’ film that it is—Raatchasi has little impact.
The story revolves around headmistress Geetha Rani (Jyotika), who transforms a poorly-run Government school into a model institution that people look up to. The moment the plot kicks off, the lines are clear. You get Geetha’s intentions. She encourages students, dismantles all barriers and binds them. Geetha Rani is a disciplinarian, no-nonsense woman and wants to “fix things and cleanse the system”. She even lunches with a group of students and insists them to call her “Geetha”. If only it happened in reality. Sigh.
Raatchasi oscillates between the story that Gowthamraj wanted to tell and Jyotika’s “ideal” image. Everything is perfect about the film and it’s so pissing off. When the director wrote the film, I believe he just thought of three characters and weaved the script around a wafer-thin plot. One—the “hero” (Jyotika), the other, the antagonist (Hareesh Peradi), and—third, the backdrop. This story places a lot of importance on the backdrop—school. You may wonder why I referred to Jyotika as “the hero”. It is not only because she shoulders the entire film, but also does stunts like Vijayakanth, quite literally. I would have been okay if those fight sequences were necessary, but they were not. It is clear Gowthamraj is a fanboy of Jyotika. He puts her on a ‘Superstar’ pedestal. I wonder why suddenly Jyotika went into an action mode and the result wasn’t satisfactory.
Class II student Kathir crushes on Geetha, proposes to her and asks for her hand in marriage. He hands over a paper that has a drawing of her face and sneaks away. Geetha evokes a gentle smile. It’s supposed to be one of those “harmless cute things”, right? Hey, but actually not. It is unfortunate to see kids not behaving like kids. How does it feel when this child asks a 30-something woman, “Ungala naan ponnu paaka varattuma?” It’s not funny at all.
Take the scene where Jyotika’s character converses with Suseela (a severely underutilised Poornima Bhagyaraj) for the first time. We could predict there is definitely something between them, but the way it has been dealt with in the forthcoming sequences was disappointing. Likewise, Raatchasi follows many threads and none of them is satisfactorily explored. We never get into Geetha Rani’s head and see the decisions she takes. Undoubtedly, Jyotika exuberates confidence and has grown into a more mature actor but it is high time she consistently picked good filmmakers.
Raatchasi doesn’t convey anything new to the audience but simply discusses issues that were highlighted in Saattai and Pallikoodam—how the Government schools are unable to give quality education to a large section of the population. Gowthamraj may have had good intentions, but what they are, is not obvious from what is on screen. His scattered approach to storytelling, with detours, is a huge letdown.
Raatchasi could have been a better film if the director understood the screenplay and characters were as important as ‘messages’. I would have liked the film more if Jyotika was portrayed as an ordinary person with flaws, instead of a superwoman with extraordinary dreams. It is ‘that’ ordinariness of the character which resonates with the audience always. Films need not be preachy or have a message. It’s enough if filmmakers are honest in their intent and creative in their expression.