Ranam movie review: Prithviraj film favours style over substance

Ranam movie review: Nirmal Sahadev is ambitious and his sense of style in storytelling is significant. But, his debut film largely winds up being an exercise in style even when it seems it digs deeper.

Rating: 2 out of 5
Written by Manoj Kumar R | Bengaluru | Updated: September 10, 2018 12:36:19 pm

Ranam review Ranam movie review: Prithviraj, who is also the narrator of the film, does a convincing job playing a problematic hero.

Ranam movie cast: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Rahman, Isha Talwar, Nandhu
Ranam movie director: Nirmal Sahadev
Ranam movie rating: 2 stars

Debutant director Nirmal Sahadev’s Ranam is set in a world where everyone is looking for something. Each character has lost something and is searching for it. Take, for instance, the film’s hero Aadhi (Prithviraj Sukumaran), he is in search of a second chance in life, which will allow him to live a life free of crimes. The villain Damodar Ratnam (Rahman) has lost his identity back at his home country, Sri Lanka, during the civil war and is chasing a new identity in Detroit’s underworld. Heroine Seema (Isha Talwar) has lost touch with her own self while trying to raise a family. And her teenage daughter named Deepika (Celine Joseph) has lost innocence and looking for a companion in wrong places. Aju (Mathew Arun), another teenager in the film, loses a bag full of drugs while trying to find his masculinity.

When we reflect back on the film and its underlying theme, we appreciate the director’s decision to set the story in Detroit, a city in Michigan that has lost itself in crimes and violence. In a sense, Aadhi is an embodiment of the old city’s yearning for a second chance to return to its glory days. Gasping for final breath and begging for an helping hand before it totally drowns in the decay of modern society.

The film opens with an image of Aadhi lying on the road and is surrounded by the cops. He’s badly wounded and bleeding. He’s shot in the chest. And he says that he’s not ready to “give up yet”. He embodies the spirit of the city he is living in.

Aadhi introduces himself as the best getaway driver in the whole of Detroit. He busts out of a container with a fancy car and escapes the cops without breaking a sweat in ensuing hot pursuit. And that’s the only chase sequence we get in a film, whose hero’s specialty is supposed to be driving cars. He had been doing some jobs for Damodar to repay his uncle Bhaskar’s (Nandhu) debt. He was clear of all obligations until his brother Aju falls into Damodar’s trap. It forces Aadhi to return to Damodar to keep his brother safe.

Staying true to the theme of the film, Nirmal has heavily restricted the movements in the film. The characters in the movie are stuck in their own places. It’s kind of claustrophobic. Most of the scenes are shot inside the buildings or cars. That restricts their movements and also symbolizes the impasse in their lives.

While we can understand that all characters are mourning their loses, it gets really tried to see similar identical characters crawling across the screen. They all move, speak and look in a particular way as if they all went to the same boarding school.

Prithviraj, who is also the narrator of the film, does a convincing job playing a problematic hero, who had a difficult childhood, which is followed by a very complex adulthood. Isha Talwar as a mother of a troubled teenager is like a floating feather, she moves in the direction of the wind. Her character narration may sound something like this: you’re a pushover and importantly don’t ask any questions to anyone. Even if it means finding the truth about your dead daughter or your drug peddling boyfriend.

In the end, it seems the film was Nirmal’s over two-hour-long overture to another film he wants to make. It is a film about the budding romance between Aadhi and Seema. The director has set all the cards on the table for the sequel. But, it remains to be seen whether it was just a gimmick, or he really intends to make a follow-up film.

But, Ranam doesn’t impress me as much as I want it to. Nirmal is ambitious and his sense of style in storytelling is significant. But, his debut film largely winds up being an exercise in style even when it seems it digs deeper.

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