'Rajaratham', starring Nirup Bhandari, Avantika Shetty, Arya and others in key roles, hit the screens this Friday. Here is our review.
Rajaratham is the name of a luxury bus that is on its way from Hyderabad to Bengaluru. Its voice (Rana Daggubati) introduces the audience to its very many oddball or troubled passengers.
Abhishek (Nirup Bhandari) and Megha (Avantika Shetty), the collegemates, are two of them. They end up sitting next to each other in the bus. It's Abhi's chance to impress his crush, who herself has had a not-so-pleasant relationship with her lover.
Vishwa (Tamil actor Arya) is a henchman who works for a politician out to provoke clashes between the Telugus and the Kannadigas over an unfavorable Supreme Court verdict. Even as this drama builds up, Abhi and Megha continue to bond over unforeseen situations.
But then, as fate would have it, Rajaratham itself will have to witness a tragedy as politics of hate strikes at its 'heart'. But not the spirit, as we shall soon see.
Touted to be a romantic-comedy, 'Rajaratham' actually turns out to be a road film with distinct sensibilities. The bus is full of atypical or downright buffoonish characters who are not really friendly towards one another. Director Anup Bhandari leverages this aspect of the story to create a whole lot of fun situations - a fairly noteworthy effort gone wrong for want of nativity, among others.
Almost every single face in the film is unfamiliar. This is not to say that they are not competent. At least the lead actors are engaging to an extent. Arya's characterization helps elevate his performance. All that is there.
However, much screen time is wasted in letting Abhi woo Megha over his creative music/poetry. In the first half, the hyperloop screenplay technique actually becomes too much to take. The very many slow-motion shots are trivial. The sub-plots are sketchy. Rana's voiceover is overdone. The conversations, especially those between the lead pair, are not straightforward in many places.
The hero's 'banana obsession' actually defines the film's quality - nothing is so simple here. Had the narration been more comprehensible, the layers would have been better appreciated. In an era of simplistic writing, this film actually presents quite a few brilliant tropes. However, they are mired in the quagmire of the film's over-the-top self. Sometimes, the things become too loud.
The very many characters and their professions/backstories don't go into enriching the climax or the pre-climax. In fact, for a good part of the second half, the first half's characters are given a miss.
The indulgences of Abhi are too many to put up with. Had the actor been a well-known face (looking like a version of Sudheer Babu doesn't help either), the scenes might have been more saleable.
Since the bus is a character in the movie, one feels its pain should have had a place in the climax. Of course, going by the too many trivial lines that Rana is made to mouth throughout, one shouldn't expect any such maturity in the first place.
Anup and Avantika are a good pair. They carry the vibes of innocent youngsters pining for pure joy. The comedians are OK. Ravishankar and the guy who plays Rendo Puli are good. As for the technical departments, William David's cinematography is flawless. Ajaneesh Lokanath's background score is impressive. The songs (music is by Anup Bhandari) are melodious.
'Rajaratham' is a road film with a proper social message. Too much of quirkiness does the film in, though. Abburi Ravi's dialogues are lost in translation. The alleged Telugu-Kannada bilingual lacks nativity.