There is ample blood and gore in Chandrashekhar Bandiyappa’s Rathavara but that is hardly an issue. The plot leads nowhere and proposes the most outrageous resolutions but even that is barely a problem. What takes precedence over all reasons as the biggest cause for outrage is the film’s portrayal of the transgender community.
Manikantha (Ravi Shankar) is an MLA-cum-gangster who nurtures ambitions of becoming a chief minister. Rathavara (Sri Murali) is his right hand man and an ace gangster. A seer tells Manikantha that if he wants to become the chief minister, he has to see the dead face of a mangalamukhi, a transgender. So, he asks Rathavara to bring him the body of a transgender.
If the premise so far is not outrageous enough, the film descends further into the ludicrous through its regressive portrayal of transgenders.
Bandiyappa houses the transgender community in his film in the grungiest of settings and views them with an air of suspicion, fear and threat. Rathavara tries to sneak into a funeral procession with the intention of stealing a body but is caught by Madevi, the leader of the transgender community who Bandiyappa portrays as a fearsome person.
The film gets progressively worse. Rathavara, after failing to steal the body, decides to kill a transgender. He targets Madevi but fails yet again because Madevi fights him and is seen cursing him by reciting Sanskrit mantras. Madevi is, in fact, fashioned on Ashutosh Rana’s character in Sangharsh (1999).
Perturbed by the ‘curse’, Rathavara has a change of heart. The plot actually gets worse (if that is even possible). To make matters worse, performances of the cast are loud and melodramatic.
A major portion of the film dwells on themes of sacrifice, superstition, blessing and curse, but what becomes clear is that the director has hardly delved deep into any of these.
William Shakespeare is believed to have written ‘Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven’. Bandiyappa needs to worry about the curse of ignorance, not the one he is obsessed about in the film.
Cast: Sri Murali, Rachita Ram, Ravi Shankar, Sadhu Kokila, Chikkanna
Director: Chandrashekhar Bandiyappa