Rakht Charitra (A)
Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Cast: Vivek Oberoi, Shatrughan Sinha, Abhimanyu Singh, Radhika Apte, Sushant Singh, Zarina Wahab and others
Ram Gopal Varma’s ‘modern-day Mahabharat’ lives up to its name, and how!
Rakht Charitra not only begins on a disturbingly violent note, but also spews blood and slaughter in every shot, scene and sequence. Yet, it has been done so artfully that you live through the gory, gruesome degeneration of the human mind and body to find yourself awestruck by the sheer intensity of the film.
Set in the disputed land of Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, Rakht Charitra is the story of the politics of hate that grips two communities. While Narasimha Reddy is the unchallenged political authority of this town, his man Friday Veerbhadra (who belongs to a lower caste) rises in fame and stature which makes Nagmani Reddy, a relation of Narasimha Reddy, go green. He poisons Narasimha’s ears against his trustworthy aide Veerbhadra, setting off strife between the two.
The shrewd Nagmani hatches a conspiracy; Veerbhadra and his older son Shankar (Sushant Singh) are killed in the most macabre manner, which prods his younger city-dwelling son Pratap Ravi (Oberoi) to take up the mantle and avenge their deaths. Politics comes into the fray when Pratap Ravi kills both the Reddys, bringing him face-to-face with Nagmani’s ‘raakshas’ son Bukka Reddy (Abhimanyu Singh) who is dreaded by all for the agonising deaths (like cutting off a piece of flesh and throwing rats on the wounded parts) that he bestows upon his opponents and for abducting random women walking on the roads to gratify his lust.
Pratap Ravi is taken under his wing by Shivaji Rao (Sinha), a film star-turned-politician worshipped by the masses (no prizes for guessing whom the character is based upon — NT Rama Rao). Pratap Ravi contests elections, becomes a minister, and also gives up on his violent ‘goonda’ tactics after exterminating Bukka in a brilliantly plotted course of action.
So, basically, Rakht Charitra is a simple story of revenge between two families, yet it makes a statement on issues like democracy, corruption, political decadence and the immorality of the human spirit.
The screenplay is crisp and gripping; the storyline progresses rapidly with piquant dialogues without giving you a feeling of being overdone. The film is what it is because of the dialogues, which convey so much through so few words. In fact, the film relies solely on the expressions of the actors, which are powerful enough to move you. The impact is such that you can relate to the fury, anguish and vengeance which are the ruling emotions of the film.
Oberoi, displaying the right emotion with the right expression at the right time, steals the show. Abhimanyu Singh as the beastly rowdy is brilliant, too. Sinha is quite commendable and looks rather cute mouthing his amusing one-liners. The music is superb; with its instrumental beats and evocative lyrics, it adds to the potency of the film. Amol Rathod’s cinematography is a treat for the eye, what with his impressive shots of violence-ridden episodes and passion-filled scenes.
After producing a series of duds like Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, the two Phoonks and Rann, RGV has surprisingly thrown at the audience a film that could actually evoke some emotions in you. A must, must watch (even if you are a non-violence zealot!)