Ramgopal Varma is known for dark and gritty cinema and Rakta Charitra is not just the film-maker's, but also Hindi cinema's most violent film so far. Be forewarned, Rakta Charitra is not for the lily-livered. Nor is it for those who love to visit cineplexes with their families, weekend after weekend, to watch that perfect family film. This one has just one song (not needed, actually), no romance, no comedy/humour, no phoren locations, no good looking faces, no family gatherings and no striking sets that are mandatory for escapist cinema. RGV is a rebel, he likes to make movies he believes in and Rakta Charitra proves it yet again.
Let me add, Rakta Charitra is not one of RGV's most accomplished works. Perhaps, one of the reasons could be because he's now churning out gangster and crime-based films with amazing regularity and obviously, there's not much he can explore due to the limitations of this genre. But, yes, Rakta Charitra has a fascinating story to tell and even if you aren't acquainted with Paritala Ravi, you might identify with Rakta Charitra because the essence of the film is revenge.
Final word? With a title like Rakta Charitra and all the blood and gore in the film, it's certain that the film holds appeal for those who like to watch brutality in cinema, which, in turn, cuts off a sizeable section of the audience (ladies and kids). However, from the content point of view, I'd say that Rakta Charitra is the best bet of this week.
Rakta Charitra deals with emotionally volatile people and is set in a rural environment. It tells the story of Paritala Ravi (Vivek Oberoi), a soft-spoken person, who took law in his hands to avenge the murders of his father (Rajendra Gupta) and brother (Sushant Singh). Paritala Ravi's name sent shivers up the spines of not only his rivals, but even the law enforcement agencies. He rose to become a minister eventually. The first part ends with his undertaking a mission to end goonda raj in the state.
By now we've come to expect zany camera angles, tight close ups, a raging background score, power-packed performances and abstract stories from RGV's films and Rakta Charitra is no different. Expect all this and more [read bloodshed] in Rakta Charitra. Since Rakta Charitra is based on a true story, there's not much one can comment on it, but the manner in which the incidents unfold keep you hooked. Of course, it's a vendetta fare, yet one is keen to fathom what essentially provoked a soft-spoken individual to transform into a killing machine.
Barring the incidents in the initial reels, there's not much movement in the story in the first hour. In fact, there are killings and more killings. But the story gathers momentum when an iconic actor turned politician enters the scene and takes Paritala Ravi under his wings. The sequences between Shatrughan Sinha and Vivek are, frankly, the preeminent and most excellent parts of the enterprise. The post-interval is different because the killings reduce and Paritala now fights his opponent from the corridors of power.
Rakta Charitra gets lengthy in its second half and one genuinely feels that RGV should've curtailed the length of the film by a few minutes, although the introduction of Suriya's character at the end only raises the curiosity for the second installment.
RGV has handled a number of sequences brilliantly, but the film leaves you with a sense of deja vu off and on. Glimpses of films like Sarkar and Sarkar Raj, besides Satya and Company, though not remotely similar to Rakta Charitra, flash across your mind. It's a little intricate to encompass all incidents in the screenplay, but writer Prashant Pandey makes a sincere effort. Cinematography (Amol Rathod) catches your eye. Action scenes are true to life. Background score compliments the mood of the film.
All RGV films are embellished with powerful performances and Rakta Charitra is no exception. Vivek Oberoi breathes fire and venom and comes across as the most appropriate actor to infuse life into the character he portrays. He's super efficient and his act in Company and Shootout At Lokhandwala pale in comparison. Shatrughan Sinha is remarkable. A powerful personality could've only been portrayed by a powerful actor and the veteran enacts it with amazing ease. Abhimanyu Singh is superb as the opponent. You hate him for being so evil and that only goes to prove how effective he is. Radhika Apte is good. Zarina Wahab is first-rate. Ashwini Kalsekar is excellent. Ashish Vidyarthi, Rajendra Gupta, Anupam Shyam, Sushmita Mukherjee, Vishwajeet Pradhan and Kota Srinivasa Rao shine in their respective parts. Sudeep and Darshan Jariwala get no scope.
On the whole, Rakta Charitra is not for the faint-hearted or the lily-livered. The violence, the blood and gore depicted in the film will shock and disconcert you, which only goes to establish as to how proficiently the subject material has been treated. The film is targeted mainly at those who love to watch aggression, violence, bloodshed, brutality and massacre on the silver screen, but a chunk of the movie-going audience (ladies and kids) will choose to stay away from this scene of carnage. The business in Telugu and Tamil versions is expected to be excellent, due to the strong identification with the subject material.
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Cast: Vivek Oberoi, Shatrughan Sinha, Abhimanyu Shekhar Singh, Sushant Singh, Zarina Wahab, Aashish Vidyarthi, Suriya
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