Ram Charan rules the stage
Ram Charan rules the stage

 A revenge drama based in a pastoral background?  A love story with a rural twist? A harsh take on contemporary Indian society with its class and caste prejudices? A retro story with a modern narrative?  Watching ‘Rangasthalam’ makes one encounter so many queries.  The answer is however a solitary one: a well designed mass entertainer, incorporating slices of every one of these issues.

By any standards, this film was a well- marketed and publicised venture of director B Sukumar ever since its launch in February 2017. A year later, with dizzying pre-publicity and hype, the film has been released as the first of the many summer sensations that are waiting to explode, over the next two months, on the silver screens across the world.

Putting together an ensemble cast with Prakash Raj at one end and Rohini at the other, slotting in the others like Anasuya and senior Naresh in between, Sukumar takes off at a breakneck speed with an intro when the veteran politician (Prakash Raj) is wheeled in, battling death after a horrific accident. A few flashbacks and flash forwards are put into use to set in the narrative, which is clearly and adamantly rural, with the scenic Godavari river in the backdrop.

A noisy and carefree hero, with a partially-deaf condition is the ‘sound engineer’ who takes upon himself the role of watering the fields at a cost. These very pieces of land are coveted by the village top gun (JagapathiBabu) the permanent president of the area for 30 years. Of course, most of it is sheer deceit and exploitation with the hapless villagers meekly surrendering their home and hearths to him. 

The film changes gears, gets more serious and action-laden as the hero’s Dubai returned brother  (Aadi Pinisetty) gets sucked in to a confrontation with the bad guys, led by the scheming supremo, who is cool and menacing as any really powerful guy that can be. As the disunited denizens slowly unite under the saviour, the story takes its interesting twists and turns with a very gripping climax to elevate the film altogether.

For the millennial viewers, with the 1980s being the retro era (as was the post-Independence era for the generation which watched black& white films) it all falls into place aptly. 

There are transistor radios, strains of AIR tunes, the languid tunes of the Telugu films of those days and an unhurried pace to the life shown on the screen. The plot is however timeless for sure, especially when it comes to the severe and inhuman prejudices which still plague our lives in contemporary world.

Ram Charan, as expected, puts his all into the role and manages to hold attention throughout. What is appreciable is the individual identity that the director vests with nearly half-a-dozen characters who straddle the screen, excluding the leading pair. Samantha’s role could have been a little more fleshed out and longer, yet, for the width she gets, she packs in a solid performance.  

Aadi Pinisetty makes a mark as the elder brother with a reforming zeal. A surefire start to the holiday season for the Telugu movie buffs.