Review Movies

Rajaratham: All over a journey

It’s a season for personification of inanimate objects in films, Ravi Teja offered a voice-over to a tree in Awe, Mahesh Babu did his bit as nature in Manasuku Nacchindi and with Rajaratham, actor Rana Daggubati gives a personality to a luxury bus — the film is named after him. Rajaratham is an ideal title for a road film and comes with the staple elements associated with the genre. Beyond the predictability, the director Anup Bhandari fills the film with colourful, quirky characters, coincidences that are presented well. Raw humour springs out of ordinary situations, that the story comes with a fairy tale-like quality helps its treatment.

The bus accommodates passengers of various professions, age-groups and attitudes, an excuse for the filmmaker to go back and forth into their past and how their lives are invariably connected to that of the protagonists Abhishek (Nirup Bhandari) and Megha (Avantika Shetty). These former college mates find themselves seated next to each other in the bus and seem to be perennially in the ‘journey is more beautiful than the destination’ mode. Not everything about Rajaratham is saccharine, a thread of the film deals with a village boiling under communal tension between Kannada-speaking and Telugu-speaking residents. The smooth journey has its roadblocks with destiny tying up various ends of the story neatly.

The film runs like a musical in most parts. Abhishek is a musician, poetry and music help blossom his equation with Megha. The two enjoy life to the fullest, the journey gives them many situations to bond, they are troubled by not-so friendly co-passengers, are confronted by goons, are lost in a forest, get to share their past and even rescue a life. Both Nirup and Avantika being newcomers are natural in their performances. The softer elements of the film complement the familiar political mafia trope surprisingly well. Arya plays Viswa, a local leader who champions for the cause of his community. The film attains a dark tone in the final stretch, yet the director ensures the feel-good quality is intact.

Road films lack basis when they focus only on momentary highs; Rajaratham too suffers from this. The director lingers too long on building Abhishek and Megha’s equation. There is an abundance of characters in black and white shades, no greys there. Yet Anup gives us very real, likeable characters — a jeweller with a sweet tooth, a headmistress who is a control-freak, Ravi Shankar as an ‘uncle’ who helps the couple reach their bus when they lose their way. Actor Arya shines in an extended-special appearance too. That the film traverses across Karnataka, AP and Telangana opens us to a mixture of slangs and languages. There are sync issues with the dialogues occasionally though.

Rajaratham is a simple, well-intended film with its heart in the right place.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2021 12:20:30 PM |

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