Rating: 8.5/10 (Chittibabu all the way)
Cast: Ram Charan, Samantha, Aadhi Pinisetty, Jagapathi Babu, Prakash Raj, Naresh, Rohini, Ajay Ghose, Anasuya, Mahesh Achantha, Shatru, Shaking Seshu, Sathya, Amith, Pooja Hegde (Special Appearance), Getup Sreenu, Brahmaji, Rajeev Kanakala
Producer: Naveen Yerneni, CVM Mohan, and Y Ravi Shankar
Banner: Mythri Movie Makers
The first big Telugu movie of the Tollywood summer season is here in Rangasthalam. Directed by Sukumar, the film features Ram Charan and Samantha in the lead roles. The last few big budget Telugu movies have been horrendous and have bit the dust miserably in recent times. Can Rangasthalam break the trend and come out on top? Let's find out in this week's review.
Plot: Rangasthalam is all about Chittibabu (Ram Charan) and the love that he has for his brother Kumar Babu (Aadhi) and the role that village politics in Rangasthalam played and how it changed their lives forever.
Performances: If I could use all of the adjectives in the dictionary to describe Ram Charan's performance in this film, it would not suffice. He is THAT GOOD. For so many years, Ram Charan has been labeled as the ultimate product of nepotism. Son of the biggest star in the industry, he has good looks but no expressions, good dancer but can't act etc. But in Rangasthalam, he is literally like a lion unleashed from it's cage. You never see Ram Charan the star. You only see the character of Chittibabu. He will make you cry, laugh, and whistle for his character. His love for his brother and the lengths he will go to keep him happy and safe is truly endearing to watch. His scenes with Samantha are a delight to watch and his relationship with Anasuya is beautiful. His comic timing is excellent and he reminds us of a young Chiranjeevi back in the 80's with his village styling and voice. Ram Charan the star is dead and Ram Charan the actor has finally arrived. This film will be remembered for the flawless and magnificent performance of Chittibabu for ages. To sum it up, this film is Ram Charan, Ram Charan, and Ram Charan, from start to finish. Just amazing.
Samantha does very well in a deglam role as Ramalakshmi.
Aadhi Pinisetty plays his character with the utmost sincerity and gives an honest performance as usual.
Jagapathi Babu is excellent as the cruel president of Rangasthalam. Prakash Raj gets a crucial role after a long time but has limited screen presence.
Perhaps, it's Anasuya that gets the most recognition after Charan in this film. She is outstanding as Rangamma Atha and plays her role to perfection.
Ajay Ghose is good in his role. Jabardasth Mahesh entertains as Chittibabu's daily news feed.
Naresh, Rohini, Sathya, Shatru, and the rest of the cast are all adequate.
Direction: After making films filled with logics and butterfly effects and grey matter, ace director Sukumar has changed gears and made a complete village entertainer set in the 1980's in Rangasthalam. The director does many things right such as creating an excellent character in Chittibabu, showcasing family and village lifestyle, and establishing the whole world of Rangasthalam. He truly transports you to another dimension in the film. As much good there is the film, this film is not perfect as to what other reviews have said. Rangasthalam has it's fair share of problems. The first being the villains and perhaps the story. Jagapathi Babu as the president and Prakash Raj as the other politician are shown to be the most powerful characters but their characters end in the most simple manner. Why the opening scene is the way that it is is never answered with the truck. Jabardasth Mahesh excels in his role but a joke made once is fine but the constant pestering by Charan to his character about what other people are saying gets annoying after a while and tests your patience as the film goes on. The film also really doesn't have a concrete reason as to why it's set in the 1980's. Rangasthalam easily could have been set in present day East Godavari instead of the 1980's. Every Sukumar film features a hero with a disability. Here, Charan's character is deaf. But Sukumar at times makes it the main point and it gets difficult to watch at times because of the repetitiveness. While Ram Charan plays the part to perfection, excessive repetition does take a toll on the audience. Lastly, the violence in this film is raw and brutal. The fight sequence where Ram Charan saves Aadi in the 2nd half is perhaps one of the most brutal fights in Telugu cinema history. The less I say about it the better for you'll know what I'm talking about when you watch it. Lastly, the climax twist wasn't that effective in my opinion but that's up for debate by many. Overall, Rangasthalam is essentially a mass film from a director like Sukumar but I wouldn't call it his best work ever. But it's certainly one of his best despite him playing to galleries.
Technicalities: Rangasthalam has one of the best technical outputs in recent times. Music and Background Score by DSP is outstanding. But he should have kept Shiva Naagulu's voice for Aa Gattununtava song as DSP's voice is quite bad generally speaking. In fact, Yentha Sakkagunavve would have been a much better song is DSP didn't sing it. All the songs are well shot on screen. Jigelu Rani is a treat to watch on screen. Cinematography by Rathnavelu is fabulous. The rustic visuals of the village are captured beautifully by the ace cameraman. Editing by Naveen Nooli is questionable. The song of Jigelu Rani and Orrayyo could have easily been trimmed. Not that the film is too long, it's just that those songs disrupt the flow of the film. Production Design/Art by Ramakrishna-Monika is incredible. The sets created for this movie are so real and authentic you actually feel that it's a real village and not something fictional. The attention to detail is amazing. Magnificent stuff from the art directors. Fights by Ram-Lakshman are good yet raw, rustic, and brutal. Dialogues are entertaining and delivered in typical Godavari slang. Production Values by Mythri Movie Makers are extravagant. Congratulations to them on their hat-trick and they are definitely one of the best production houses in the industry. They pick scripts with good content and wishing them all the more success for years to come.
+ Ram Charan
+ Production Values and Technical Output
+ Direction (for the most part)
- Editing in parts
- Age Old Story (but treatment makes up for it)
Final Take and Analysis: Sukumar has always been a cut above Telugu directors. A highly intelligent director, most of his films deals with complex issues such as clash of ego's, schizophrenia, the butterfly effect, and so on. His fan following is such that some fans or moviegoers would put him next to only Rajamouli in the list of the industry's best directors.
However for a man used to delivering excellence and out of the box concepts, one might feel Rangasthalam is a step backwards for him. The reason being, Rangasthalam when simply put, is an out and out mass film from Sukumar with his trademark taking. The film doesn't offer anything new but it's the presentation that makes the difference.
Right away the film hooks your attention with an accident taking place. But the beginning and climax is extremely similar to Nani's MCA just with a little difference. It's Ram Charan's character of Chittibabu thought that will stay with you once the film is done. Charan gives a performance for the ages and eliminates any negativity around him all these years. His performance is worth your ticket itself.
The whole village setup, the slang, and the events that happen in Rangasthalam transport you into a different dimension. Sukumar does well for the most part and delivers a film that will cater to all sections of the audience. It's been a long time since we've seen a big Telugu movie that is as well made as Rangasthalam. Not only are the performances flawless, but the technical output is also fabulous. Each and every department did their job with the utmost conviction and it shows, especially the art department.
The interval bang is well shot albeit predictable but the pre-interval fight sequence is pure goosebumps stuff with Rajamouli level elevations and taking. The 1st half is excellent and the 2nd half is arguably even better.
The one turn off for this movie though might be the violence. The film is so raw and brutal and the fight sequence in the 2nd half in the woods at night is truly another level of brutality in terms of violence. You feel as if you're watching a Boyapati Sreenu film or Simhadri with the amount of violence in the sequence. Despite good intentions, Rangasthalam is filled with senseless violence at times.
And despite Ram Charan's deaf angle to his character being unique, it tests your patience at times as the film progresses. Also the songs of Jigelu Rani and Orayyo are dragged and forced and could have easily been chopped off. Yet, The film never feels slow despite it's 170 minute run-time.
Despite any of it's shortcomings, Rangasthalam is carried by it's stars incredible and spotless performance. And regardless of my review, you'll watch this film either way. But here is the verdict.
Overall, Rangasthalam is an excellent village drama by Sukumar and easily one of his best films. If you're a Ram Charan fan, then this film will have you in happy tears and you'll be smiling the while movie. If you're not, Rangasthalam is still worth a watch for it's technical excellence, brilliant direction, and Ram Charan's flawless performance. Ram Charan excels in the role of a lifetime. He alone is worth your ticket and everything else is bonus!