Review: 'Raajakumara' is a predictable masala film with a bleeding heart

Even by blockbuster standards, ‘Raajakumara’ is too heavy on self-righteous piety and too light on actual story content.
Review: 'Raajakumara' is a predictable masala film with a bleeding heart
Review: 'Raajakumara' is a predictable masala film with a bleeding heart
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You can’t help but marvel at the amazing ability of mainstream Kannada cinema to find easy answers to the most difficult and complex issues. Take the latest Puneeth Rajkumar-starrer, Raajakumara for instance.

As Guruprasad’s Eradane Sale did a few weeks earlier, Raajakumara bats for the elderly, castigating its audience with repeated punch lines of overflowing sentimentality for their lack of regard for them. Of course, Puneeth Rajkumar is a fountain of overflowing virtuousness, who will change all that. 

Not only will he see value where nobody else does, but with just a speech or two, teach the children of all those elderly parents about the familial love they’ve forgotten. He’ll even turn around a dyed-in-the-wool baddie with just a few nostalgic photographs. 

Before all of this happens, of course, every good masala film needs a fight or two and a song or two to set the mood. And Raajakumara conveniently kicks off the action in Australia giving director Santhosh Ananddram fairly inarticulate racists to set up fights with, and some glamorous locations in which to parade his hero Siddharth aka Appu (Puneeth) in suit after fancy suit, and enough occasions for Appu to vehemently proclaim his Indianness and Kannadiganess. 

There’s also a wholly unnecessary romance with Priya Anand too, which is only an excuse for Appu to declare his firm and undying love for his parents, and his complete inability to ever do anything that displeases his father (played by R Sarathkumar). 

While everything ends well on this count, Appu declares in a “rousing” moment that he’s willing to give up the girl he met only so recently for his father whom he has loved all his life. And once this point is made, Priya’s character becomes a piece of the background. I could count on one hand the number of full dialogues she has in the second half of the film, and has to content herself with simply smiling at the camera in every third scene. 

Now most of this is par for the course for the standard masala blockbuster. But even by blockbuster standards, Raajakumara is too heavy on self-righteous piety and too light on actual story content. So there are too many sequences that want to guilt-trip audiences about the elderly abandoned in old age homes. 

In between there is also a plot involving a greedy politician who is prepared to murder little children with contaminated medicines to fulfill his ministerial ambitions. But guess what, this ruthless politician has father issues too, and just needs to be reminded of how much he loves his father to turn over a new life. 

And that’s where mainstream Kannada films become so unbelievable. On issue after issue, the industry’s biggest directors create villains who are so unambiguously evil that killing them will automatically save the world, or villains who just don’t seem to realise the full implications of what they are doing, and can be brought to repentence with just one good guilt-trip. 

Even as they reduce large and complex problems to simple answers like greed and moral deficiency, they also cynically reduce the “system” entirely to corruption and avarice. So the solutions that emerge are of course simple, kill the bad guys and just teach everyone else to care a little more. 

And when the end credits roll by, you can’t help but wonder when these directors will step into the real world with all its gritty, seemingly unresolvable issues? Or is that too much reality to ask from a mainstream masala film? 

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