‘Raatchasi’ review: A well-intentioned drama that can’t decide if it’s a social-message film or a masala flick

Jyotika in 'Raatchasi'.

Jyotika in 'Raatchasi'.  

A student secretly crushing on a teacher in an intrinsic part of school and college life. But I doubt if we’ve seen it in detail on the big screen. Raatchasi’s ‘love’ track is one between a class II student named Kathir and the headmistress protagonist Geetha Rani (Jyotika). There’s this scene in which he shyly walks up to her and slips in a piece of paper. She looks at it. It’s a drawing of her face. She grins and looks for Kathir, who has already quietly taken refuge behind a wall and is grinning himself. It’s supposed to be a ‘romance’, one that brings a smile to your face. In a different film, it might have stood out as 'cute', but in a message-heavy, dialogue-heavy film like Raatchasi, it’s among the minor consolations, unfortunately.

Genre: Drama
  • Cast: Jyotika, Hareesh Peradi, Poornima Bhagyaraj
  • Storyline: A headmistress takes on the onus of setting right a non-functional government school

Raatchasi wants to package tonnes of information and characters in its limited time, and ends up making little impact. There’s the protagonist – a headstrong and determined Geetha Rani – who wants to create a revolution of sorts in a small government school. In other words, she wants to change the ‘system’, a word that is actually used more than thrice in the film.

The first half is too bland and without craft – when a song arrives, you know that a reform/change is around the corner. When Geetha Rani arrives, she's always accompanied by a lecture - with so many statistics thrown in that you wonder if Ramana’s AR Murugadoss wrote the film.

Director Gowthamraj sort of redeems himself in the second half, by taking on the masala route. He tackles issues that have already been discussed in Pallikoodam and Sattai – something that the makers themselves have acknowledged publicly – but repeating it is not the problem here. The issue is the confusion…in the inability to position itself as a message film on education reform or a masala film. (Jyotika even gets a fight sequence in which she bashes a few goons!) All this makes it come across as a Vijayakanth film… one that has a lot of lecturing and do-gooder tales.

There’s a film in Raatchasi somewhere, and that lies in its emotion. In the well-written father-daughter relationship, in the flashback, and in the ‘love’ track. All these, unfortunately, are not fleshed out properly. Instead, what we get are reels of dialogue (Jyotika recites them rather than delivering them, with even rehearsed pauses in between them) and a private school-versus-government school angle that goes nowhere. Raatchasi is well-intentioned no doubt — films like these are constant reminders of the need to upgrade our government schools - but it needs more finesse, more heart.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2020 1:06:15 PM |

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