Rangasthalam - Movie Review

Friday, March 30, 2018 - 13:00
Rangasthalam (2018)
Cast & Crew: 

Film: Rangasthalam
Cast: Ram Charan, Samantha Akkineni, Anasuya Bharadwaj, Aadhi Pinisetty, Prakash Raj, Jagapati Babu, Amit Sharma, Naresh, Rohini, Bramhaji, Gauthami,Rajesh Diwakar, Pooja Hegde (item song) and others
Music: Devi Sri Prasad
Cinematography: R. Rathnavelu
Editing: Navin Nooli
Production design: Ramakrishna, Mounika
Action stunts: Ram - Laxman
Production company: Mythri Movie Makers
Producers: Naveen Yerneni, Y. Ravi Shankar, Mohan Cherukuri
Story, screenplay and Direction: Sukumar
Release date: March 30, 2018
CBFC Rating: UA
Running time: 179 minutes

What’s it about!
Circa 1980. Place: Rangasthalam village. There were no cell-phones, no internet, and no modern amenities. Everyone did manual jobs. Chitti Babu (Ram Charan), the village’s favorite young lad, is the most-hardworking person. Despite his hearing deficiency, he does everything – watering the fields with pump sets, etc. - with so much ease. He develops love towards the village beauty Rama Lakshmi (Samantha). The village has a president Phanidra Bhupati (Jagapathi Babu) who has been ruling it for many decades unopposed. The farmer’s co-operative society run by the president’s henchmen make sure that the farmers are never loan-free. Turbulence happens in his life when his Dubai-returned brother Kumar Babu (Aadhi) fields in village president elections. The clam, serene village turns into killing field. Chitti Babu now is out to take the vengeance.
‘Rangasthalam’ is name of the village but it also means ‘stage’. As the title song lyrics goes (Kanapadani Cheyyedo Aadisthunnaa Aata Bommalam Antaa..), the villagers are mere actors in this stage play that is scripted/directed by some visible forces and some invisible forces. This theme is brought-out well by director Sukumar in this period-drama. On the surface, it may seem just a revenge drama set in 1980’s but it is actually talks about how politicians use people as pawns to achieve their goals.
The film depicts the simple rural life of 1980’s in the agency area (Rampachodavaram and Devipatnam region in East Godavari district). It begins as a youngster revolting against the oppressive and feudalistic president but there are some surprise elements as it progresses towards the penultimate.
Story begins with local MLA (played by Prakash Raj) getting injured in an accident and Chitti Babu saving him and then reveals the backstory of Chitti Babu and his village story. At the interval, we come back to the first scene and post-interval the drama goes back to the episode of Chitti Babu’s brother Kumar Babu vs village president. This back and forth screenplay is cleverly used to tell the simple story of village politics and revenge drama by writer-director Sukumar.
Sukumar has made the hero having hearing deficiency. He has used this aspect of protagonist to generate fun in the first half and in the later half, this is for emotional and dramatic effect. The major twist in the story has perfect link this angle.
Director Sukumar presents the villains through the village politics but sometimes appearances can be deceptive. How to find the real villain who wears mask of gentleman? This is the main plot of this revenge drama.
Films with the rural setup, the 80’s period and the cult elements were made in Tamil in the recent past. Known as ‘Madhurai movies”, films like “Subramanyapuram” generated huge following. However, Sukumar’s “Rangasthalam” is not “Subramanyapuram”. His is lighter version.
While the first half of the movie deals with Charan and Samantha’s romance, the fun part, the second half turns very serious. Sukumar has succeeded in transporting us to the agency area of the 80’s but some scenes have more of Tamil-flavour. And also the second-half turns slow. However, the film has some terrific scenes that elevate heroism:  the way Charan says the name of the village president is one such example. Then there is also another subtle one: hero vowing to crush the snake that tries to bite him (he later crushes village president whose name happens to be Phanindra Bhupati. Phani means snake).

The film completely belongs to Ram Charan. His performance is the pillar of the movie. In his decade-long career, Ram Charan never got the chance to showcase pure acting skills until now. It is here in this film that the actor in him has come out. He has completely surrendered to the role of Chitti Babu. This is toughest role for him (playing deaf and slipping into rural character). He has got the expressions, body language and the dialect right. It is evident that he has put his heart into this role. His performance shines through.
Samantha as Rama Lakshmi is endearing. In the village belle role, she has shined. She is said to have played this role without much makeup. She is perfect. The dubbing-artiste who has lent voice has done excellent job, her Godavari dialect is pitch-perfect.
Anasuya as Rangamma has meatier role and she has played it with flair. Hers is not seductress character but of a meaningful one. Jagapathi Babu as president of the village is also excellent (he has very few dialouges). Prakash Raj gives his best. Pooja Hegde in an item song is huge a disappointment, the song comes at wrong time. Aadhi Pinishetty as Kumar Babu is perfect.

Devi Sri Prasad always reserves best for Sukumar. "Yentha Sakkagunnave" and "Rangamma Mangamma" have worked out well in the film. His music is huge plus to the film. His background score is more effective. Rathavelu’s camera has cranked the Godavari delta area beautifully and he made the set of the village look real with his evocative camera work.
Ramakrishna and Mounika, the production designers, have done commendable job. Their village set is so real. The film’s story happens in a village somewhere in Devipatnam of tribal agency but the village is not real, it was created in Hyderabad by these two art directors. Dialogue writing is neat and in sync with the theme. Editing is neat but the 179-minute runtime definitely needs trimming.
Sukumar had written the script for his debut movie ‘Arya’. Later he has started depending on others writing. After such a long gap, he has written story, screenplay and dialogues. Though the story is flimsy, his screenplay and narration is engaging. Known as urban director, he has attempted rustic theme with élan.
Bottom-line: Ram Charan with his absolutely riveting performance steals the show in ‘Rangasthalam’. The simple theme of revenge and village politics of 1980’s is told in a engaging way by creating the mood and atmosphere. The village politics and the crude president......all these are 80’s themes. Sukumar has not brought out anything new as far as the plot is concerned. But he has brought out best performances and created temperament. Despite lengthy runtime and slow-pace, it holds the attention till the end.

Reviewed by: 
J Gudelli