Radhika Rajamani reviews Rakta Charitra (Telugu version). Click here for the Hindi version.
Supposed to be based on the life of Paritala Ravi, this film is not for the faint-hearted. It can be a blood-curdling experience to watch it, so be warned.
The film sketches the early life of Pratap (Viveik Oberoi) albeit in a sketchy manner. It shows the metamorphosis of a man from a student, and a 'naxal' to a politician due to the murders of his father Virabadraiah (Rajendra Gupta) and brother Shankar (Sushant Singh). His father, who was close to Narasimha Reddy, one of the political leaders, is finished off due to astute machination by Nagamani Reddy (Kota Srinivasa Rao) who poisons Narasimha Reddy's mind. Shankar turns into an outlaw and avenges his father's death by killing off many from Nagamani's camp. Pratap gets drawn into the revenge drama and he locks horns with Bokka Reddy (son of Nagamani Reddy played by Abhimanyu Singh). The film brings the viewer into the world of the goondas and their immoral ethics and practices -- a different terrifying world
The film picks up steam upon the entry of the actor-politician Sivaji Rao (Shatrughan Sinha) who asks Pratap to enter politics. The scenes between Sivaji and Pratap are interesting and engrossing to watch. These are the highlights of the film.
In this vendetta tale, there are women too -- Virabadraiah's wife (Zarina Wahab), Nandini (Radhika Apte), Pratap's wife, Pratap's sister-in-law, Narasimha Reddy's wife (Sushmita Mukherjee) -- who all play minor roles.
The film is high on violence with gruesome scenes which make one cringe or even shut one's eyes. The violence is heightened by the background score and Sanskrit chants like (mrityunjaya japam, verses on Siva and Vishnu). The background score complements the story. The violence, however, debars the family crowds more or less.
The action shown is rather realistic. Amol Rathod's camera captures the raw grittiness of the film. However, Varma's voiceover is of no value and is an unnecessary distraction.
He has also quite a few symbolic scenes reminiscent of real life too particularly with Sivaji Rao's role and depiction.
Ram Gopal Varma certainly initiates curiosity with this film but it's not a biopic in the true sense of the word. The first part stops at a juncture when Pratap is a politician and man to reckon with. Glimpses of Madalachheruvu Suri (Suriya) are shown to incite curiosity in viewers' minds.
Since the film is a trilingual, we have a cast from the South Indian and Hindi film industries. Coming to the performances, Viveik fits into the role of Pratap very easily. He gets into the skin of the character and his portrayal is effortless and powerful. He leaves quite an imprint at the end of the film. One waits to see his encounter with Suriya in Part II.
Shatrughan Sinha is equally good as the politician actor and pulls off the role with ease. Abhimanyu Singh puts in a power-packed performance in a negative role. Zarina Wahab leaves a mark with her performance. The performances by Kota Srinivasa Rao, Rajendra Gupta, Ashish Vidyarthi, Ashwini Kalsekar and Radhika Apte are up to the mark. Kannada actor Sudeep and Darshan Zariwalla have miniscule roles.
The action, violence, bloodshed and gore are central to the film which is spine chilling and therefore it requires strong people who love watching this kind of stuff to see Rakta Charitra. The audience from Andhra may relate to Paritala Ravi's story on celluloid. For others wanting to see more of macabre violence, wait a few more weeks for Rakta Charitra II.
As a director, it is known that Varma is stylish, and the film is typically Varma.