Starring Ramcharan Teja, Samantha Akkineni, Jagapati Babu
Directed by Sukumar
Rating: ***(3 stars)
There is something enormously endearing about a superstar trying to shed his image , to get into the skin of his character the way, say, Uttam Kumar did in SatyajitRay’s Nayak or Rajesh Khanna in Basu Bhattacharya’s Aavishkar.
In Rangashthalam, Ramcharan Teja transforms in front of our eyes. It is almost like watching a magic show where the entire appearance of the actor undergoes a sea-change as we gawk in open-mouthed amazement…Except that, here Ramcharan is not ostentatious in his mutation. He changes his personality, yes. But in doing so he makes sure he merges into rustic rugged violent milieu of injustice and inequality where one man plays an evil God.
Jagapati Babu, filled with sound fury and a flurry, as the underhand God is so larger-than-life you fear the frames will crack open under the spell of this self-appointed God’s heavy ego. Ramcharan Teja suffers no such anxieties.As the partially disabled docile shy and goodhearted Chitti Babu he is a hero unlike any other: vulnerable and sensitive, prone to defeat if push comes to shove but not embarrassed to be pushed against the wall, willing to take the punch on the chin.
Most of the dramatic conflict is generated in tandem, with Ramcharan sharing screen space unconditionally with his screen brother , played by AdhiPanisetty.When Ramcharan is with his brother he is tender.When he is with his beloved, he is super-tender.Emotions are not concealed in a false sense of machismo that screen heroes often suffer from.
There is no effort to take over the show, to emerge as unvanquished conquerer. Ramcharan Teja remains almost flawlessly in character: diffident and disarmingly disingenuous,valiant but not fearless. This underplayed heroic dimension to large-screen heroism is the film’s greatest strength.
For the the rest, this lengthy yet tight-edited melodrama plays itself out with a karmic velocity giving the main characters a chance to grow without reveling in their dazzle.The rural landscape with its toasted-brown virility is sturdily captured by cinematographer Rathnavelu who treats the landscape with lensed casualness.
And yes, there is the pretty Samantha Akkineni as the doughty female protagonist. She tries hard to blend into the rural fabric of this pitch-perfect morality tale. Charming , yes. But Samantha doesn’t quite blend into the bucolic with the ease of Ramcharan Teja.
The film keeps back some surprises right to the end.Though Rangasthalam has nothing startlingly new to offer in its content, it is a warm sincere effort to give its leading man a new image. This is a film from the heart. It delivers its punches with sincerity and without flourish .