Rangasthalam movie cast: Ram Charan, Samantha Akkineni, Aadhi Pinisetty, Jagapathi Babu, Prakash Raj
Rangasthalam movie director: Sukumar
Rangasthalam movie rating: 4 stars
Rangasthalam can be described in two words: revenge and defiance. While the revenge is at the heart of the story, defiance is its soul. Director Sukumar’s defiance, who is also the writer of the film, is on display from the very beginning of the film. He defies the very basic expectation of a film that has a commercial hero such as Ram Charan by doing away with a hero-introduction scene. The film begins with a top angle shot of showing a person, peddling his cycle as fast as he could through the mud lanes of a village and as the camera draws closer we see the side profile of Chitti Babu (Ram Charan).
As Chitti is getting closer to his destination, we see Dakshina Murthy (Prakash Raj) boarding his white Fiat. The story is set in the 1980s when Premier Padmini ruled the roads across the country. And a lorry rams into the car, launching Dakshina along with his car in the air. Dakshina is seriously injured and Chitti takes him to the hospital. Chitti is very concerned about Dakshina’s well-being and gets very emotional looking at his condition. We don’t know what is the kind of relationship they share with each other. But, we bet that it a very close one.
Sukumar takes us back in time to tell us everything that led to this moment in the story. He chases the life of the protagonist step by step and gradually develops him into a character that we begin to care about. We know Chitti has a false ego because he is hard of hearing. We know who are his family, his friends and what are his priorities. We also know about his “sound engineer” job, a euphemism for pumping water for irrigation. His daily routines and how he tries to hide his partial deafness from people who don’t know him.
In a scene, which defines the core nature of the protagonist, we get to see him hunting for a snake that once bit him. He has been on its trail for months now and he won’t be at peace until he finds it and give the punishment to it that he deems fit. Here we get a glimpse of his thirst for revenge.
When it comes to the part of defiance, Sukumar has been more clever. In Rangasthalam, people have been living in the servitude of their village President (convincingly played by Jagapati Babu). And they don’t know it. That is the thing about fascism. They have been ruled by the same authority and the same propaganda for about three decades, they’re now conditioned to accept that getting exploited by those in power is their only way of life.
When we see someone in hurry walking into the President’s house compound with his footwear on, we know that he’s breaking the rules. And he’s going to get pulled up for that. Sukumar’s writing is so good in this film that it engages the audience in every scene.
After rapidly increasing our distaste for the antagonist’s authoritarianism, Sukumar gets Chitti to crush the symbol of authority literally with a huge rock. A well-written scene that demonstrates the frustration and the willingness of the protagonist to do anything to hurt people who hurt him.
Sukumar has set the story in a contradicting backdrop. On one side, he shows Rangasthalam as a village, where people are exploited, murdered and ruled by fear. At the same time, he explores the beauty of the life around countryside making it look desirable.
Samantha Akkineni’s Ramalakshmi, a village belle, is bold, daring and at the same time compliant. A contradiction. She is shy to speak loudly her emotions for Chitti to hear. But, she plants a kiss on his lips in public when she is pushed to her limits. Samantha plays her role effortlessly. Aadhi Pinisetty, Prakash Raj, Anasuya Bharadwaj, Rohini and others add to the drama.
Ram Charan has essayed the role of Chitti Babu with conviction. It is the best performance that he has delivered in his entire career spanning about 11 years.
A couple of questions remains unanswered in the story. But, it just a tiny blip on this well-crafted canvas that is made with honesty and high regard for the audience.
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