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Kannada film review: Rama Rama Re

A still from the film ‘Rama Rama Re....’

A still from the film ‘Rama Rama Re....’  

Rama Rama Re (Kannada)

Director: D. Satyaprakash

Cast: Nataraj, K. Jayaram, Dharmanna Kadur, Bimbashree Ninasam, Radha Ramachandra

On the death row, Sandal Raja (Nataraj), a renowned criminal, escapes from jail. Other inmates tell the police later that Raja was terrified of being hanged and would murmur in his sleep that he did not want to die. Raja runs as fast as he can, and as far as he can. But is far far enough? What if he runs right into the arms of death itself?

Satyaprakash’s debut feature film Rama Rama Re invites you to join Raja as he attempts a mad escape from his reality. And the filmmaker gives you a compelling invitation, one that you cannot refuse.

The film lodges itself safely in the road movie genre and broadly sticks to the template: an on-the-road-plot that ensures a life-altering experience for its protagonists. So, other than Raja, Satyaprakash introduces you to many interesting characters: Ramanna (K. Jayaram), an ex-hangman; Dharma (Dharmanna Kadur) and Subbi (Bimbashree), lovers on the run from their caste-crazy families; and Ajji (Radha Ramachandra), who is rushing her pregnant daughter-in-law to a hospital. How the lives of all these characters intersect and transform forms the crux of the film.

The overall experience of the film, especially with its invigorating soundtrack composed by debutant Vasuki Vaibhav, is riveting. The characters are quirky but the world they inhabit too is not any less wacky.

Satyaprakash’s writing is full of sardonic and absurd elements: a police officer addicted to a television serial is faced with the choice of missing the climax of an episode if he has to catch a criminal on the run, bloodthirsty villagers searching for the run-away couple get distracted by opportunities for a selfie and ropes in the hangman’s jeep double up to form the first swing for a new-born.

The landscape too is surreal and is a protagonist in itself. The characters may be on a road trip, but to pin-point where the journey began and ended in the absorbing locale around them is futile, one realises. If this isn’t enough, Satyaprakash also takes you into the mindscape of the characters, exploring and externalising their thoughts and plans.

The most fascinating aspect about Rama Rama Re is its ability to address serious themes of caste oppression, death penalty and more broadly, the distinction between right and wrong in the most commonplace manner. Satyaprakash uses wry humour and satire well but also knows when to interject and make a poignant statement in all seriousness.

Nataraj as the death-row convict offers an intriguing performance. But the performance that steals the show is that of Dharmanna Kadur. His comic timing is commendable and his portrayal of the nervous man, yet one who puts up a brave front, is heartwarming. Bimbashree Ninasam too is a persuasive performer. There are some performances though that are not quite there, but they don’t weigh the film down.

The story (and thankfully screenplay, too) is the king here and Satyaprakash deserves credit for nuanced writing. The cinematography too is slick and fascinating, and ensures that the locale is imprinted on your mind. That it is a team of debutants that have put this film together is indeed creditworthy.

Rama Rama Re unfolds like a song, one that will linger longer in your mind, much after you’ve left the theatre.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 7:47:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/cinema-reviews/Kannada-film-review-Rama-Rama-Re/article16078718.ece

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