Cinema

Rayudu: A long, tedious watch

Vishal and Sri Divya in the film

Vishal and Sri Divya in the film  

‘Rayudu’ is a throwback to the times when filmmakers resorted to emotionally manipulative sequences to evoke sympathy

Walking out of the hall at the end of Rayudu (dubbed from last week’s Tamil release Marudhu), the bitter aftertaste was so overpowering that it swept aside the film’s brighter aspects. For once, the heroine isn’t a chirpy, glam doll. She shows some spunk. There’s a back story through which we learn about her mother, a fiery lady who opposes a goon who is rising politically. In fact, the story of the mother and the daughter is the film’s crux. Amidst hero-driven masalas we see week after week, this should be something to cheer about, isn’t it?

Of course, the hero in this film too has to protect the girl from impending danger. But at least there is scope for others to make a mark. A feisty grandmother is also in the picture.

But the last half hour or so is a throwback to the early 90s, when Tamil cinema triggered a deplorable trend of showing an elderly woman — a mother or a grandmother character — being subjected to emotional, if not physical, or at times both, abusive behaviour from the villain’s men. There were long drawn sequences of her being shamed in public, followed by an extended funeral juxtaposed with the hero unleashing his fury on the villain.

Rayudu revives those memories in the way it deals with Rayudu (Vishal)’s grandmother, who regrets her inaction that failed to save the heroine’s mother, and hopes her grandson can set things right at least for the girl. It’s sad when a filmmaker relies on emotionally manipulative segments to gain sympathy from the audience. Forget sympathy, one gets annoyed and turns away from the screen. Who wants to see an elderly woman being oiled, dunked in ice cold water and made to drink something that would make her fatally ill? These visuals are shown over and over, followed by her funeral interspersed with the final clash between Rayudu and the villain character, Rolex (R.K. Suresh).

Take these sequences away and Rayudu belongs to the genre Tamil filmmakers would call ‘Madurai masala’. In the last few years, both hard-hitting films and masala-laced potboilers have exploited that rugged terrain and its local politics. In the Telugu version, the landscape easily passes off as Rayalaseema. The team makes an effort to replace Tamil banners and posters with Telugu ones, simple things that many films don’t.

Velraj’s camera brings to life the sun scorched, dusty terrain and the actors, be it Vishal or Soori, who appears as his sidekick, do their part well. Kulappulli Leela as the grandmother and Sri Divya make a mark.

The film has a solid plot but takes too long to get to the point. Rayudu is a long, tedious watch where the characters talk a lot. Vishal is perhaps the only one who keeps it subtle.

Rayudu would have been a passable masala flick if it hadn’t ended the way it did.



Rayudu

Cast: Vishal, Sri Divya, Kulappulli Leela

Direction: M. Muthaiah

Music: D. Imman

Rating: 2

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 3:12:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Rayudu-A-long-tedious-watch/article14342413.ece

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