If you thought Sri Rama Rajyam is a Balakrishna film, think again. For, Bapu here chooses to follow his own dharma of story-telling and keeps Sri Rama (played by Balakrishna) from the screen for good measure. In fact, in first half, the hero goes missing for a good 35 minutes (only making a brief appearance in between). Never mind, the first half-an-hour for which he talks, smiles, romances, sobs, and expresses his anguish he looks every bit an actor of whom the Telugus can be proud of.
If you don't go to watch it expecting the trappings of a masterpiece, you will find Sri Rama Rajyam entertaining if not moving. Balakrishna displays his versatile acting prowess and the very many touching moments that come in between many more short numbers keep you hooked. In short, be prepared to enjoy the drama of adversities, the leisurely pace of the film and its tragic mood.
Bapu succeeds to the extent that he is honest to the script and makes a brave attempt at reinterpreting a known story - the story of Sita's expulsion from the kingdom, the travails of Sita and Rama, the role of Kusha and Lava in bringing the story to a climactic end . The marvellous maker that he is, he makes SRR look like an endearing human drama, in spite of the fact that the marathon mythological is embellished with esoteric concepts like dharma (raja dharma), karma (prarabdha), et al. The film pans out like a watchable saga of Maryadapurushottama's human suffering to which us Indians can easily connect.
The film begins with the return of Rama and Sita to Ayodhya after 14 years of banishment. In just five minutes, you are engaged by the proceedings. As Balakrishna vows his adherence to his loyalty to the people, you are reminded of NTR. It is because Balayya brings a certain grace to his character. Human god Rama can be seen through Bapu's eyes and Balakrishna in crystal clear terms. When he romances Nayan, you see a different Balakrishna altogether.
The best scene of the movie comes when an informer brings the news about the doubts of a common man, the doubts which are entertained by many in his kingdom. Balakrishna is top notch in showing the anguish of a husband, who is having to banish his wife to the forests. The confusion and the trauma portrayed by the accomplished actor looks every bit first rate.
Nayanatara as Sita delivers a good one. Her role is on the expected lines. She portrays earthiness in her demeanour.
ANR as Valmiki is, again, remarkable. His modulation and intonation will make you say that the legend's on-screen appeal is indeed timeless.
Special mention has to be made about the performances of the kids who played Kusha and Lava. They carry the second half on their shoulders and make it a brilliant drama with their realistic performances. The child artiste who plays Hanuman is another major asset. As the story tends to revolve around Lava and Kusha in half-two, it needed engaging actors to keep us glued. The children pull out very comfortably.
Talking about the technical aspects, music by Maestro Illayaraja is eminently delightful. The re-recording work adds to the grandeur of the visuals and the effort shows in every scene. The graphic works (in the beginning and in Lakshman-Lava-Kusha stand-off) are awesome. Art work and costumes are all right. Cinematography is nifty.
All in all, SRR is a film that shows the longing of Rama, the plight of Sita, their post-banishment trauma in a realistic fashion. Bapu's characters are always earthy; be they gods, the maker depicts their human side with a distinct style of his own. It is thanks to Bapu's characteristic vision that this film touches the right chord in us.
PS: Sri Rama Rajyam works at the level of making you empathise with the ordeals of Sita-Rama, who are humans like you and me here. Since the drama is sans the ingredients of a larger-than-life mythological story, its value for the gallery class is doubtful. Nevertheless, SRR will be called as a visual treat.
Released on: 17th Nov, 2011