Raajakumara: Too generic even for a star vehicle

There is very little that gives Raajakumara its identity or a clear storyline

Updated - March 25, 2017 01:23 pm IST

Published - March 24, 2017 08:22 pm IST

Bengaluru Karnataka 23/03/2017      Rajakumar Movie Stills Priya Anand and Puneeth Rajkumar

Bengaluru Karnataka 23/03/2017 Rajakumar Movie Stills Priya Anand and Puneeth Rajkumar

It would not be an exaggeration to say that the song Yaarivanu Kannadadavanu which opens Santosh Ananddram’s Raajakumara summarises the film. Loaded with praise for both Puneeth Rajkumar and the character he plays in the film (often, interchangeably used) the song compares him to an ideal son of the soil, a loaded gun, a Kohinoor gem and culminates in the refrain: “He is Mr. Perfect.” In other words, it tells us what to expect from Puneeth Rajkumar’s 26th film, which is more of a star vehicle than his silver jubilee, Doddmane Huduga , was.

Granted that star vehicles are by design intended to project a hero, appease his fans through punchy dialogues and spectacular fights, and are mostly saviour narratives. But, Raajakumara , even as far as star vehicles go, is far too generic.

Take the central character of the film, for instance. The best way to describe Siddharth (Puneeth Rajkumar) is that he is an ideal son, lover, man of the nation. There are no overt flaws or even tangible character traits that make Siddharth real or even relatable. Over the course of the 148-minute film, he goes on to solve a plethora of problems. First, he tackles racism in Australia and protects fellow Indians. Later, in India, he changes mindsets by transforming youngsters who send their parents to old age homes. He also fights corruption in the government. Then, he saves the lives of many little children. Somewhere along the way, he also falls in love, and manages to satisfy the expectations of both his parents and his girlfriend Nandini (Priya Anand).

One could add a few more societal ills or villains, and the film would still look and feel the same. There is very little that gives Raajakumara its identity or a clear storyline. It seems like a string of many different sub-stories and themes and Siddharth, much like the protagonist of a video game, tackles one hurdle after another.

If you had to unearth one consistent thread though, it would have to be that of a father-son relationship but even that is so loosely applied across settings —from Siddharth and his father (Sarath Kumar) to old-age homes to the relationship between a health minister and his father.

The film also has a large star cast and Ananddram ends up making space for everyone. The first half is set in Australia and introduces us to Siddharth, Nandini and their families. Ananddram constructs the narrative such that barring Siddharth and Nandini, no other character from the first half makes it to the second half. So, we have an entirely new set of actors and characters after the intermission. It does feel like you are watching two different films with Puneeth Rajkumar as the hero in both.

As the film-maker goes about trying to give every character a short back-story, a problem and make Sidharth solve it, it tires you out. There are adequate references to the star that Puneeth Rajkumar is and his ‘power’ throughout the film. There is also a token reference to the Kannada classic Kasturi Nivasa (1971).

Priya Anand does not really have much of a role for a full-fledged performance. In fact her role is reduced to a mere appearance in scenes in the second half. Achyuth Kumar and Ananth Nag perform well but their roles too are too simplistically written. Fans of Puneeth Rajkumar will be regaled with his dancing and the dialogues given to him.

For his part, Puneeth Rajkumar is grim faced throughout the film and one doesn’t blame him considering the number of problems he has to solve in under two hours.

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