Ranam begins and ends with the same scene, the same voice. Prithviraj’s. He is there in nearly every frame. And if he isn’t seen, he is heard. It’s nice to begin a movie with a narration. But for Ranam, the narration is a constant. Aadhi (Prithvi’s character) mouths long lines, connecting a past with a present, a Kerala with a Detroit.
The artificiality begins there, in that narration. It doesn’t go away when the narration ends and the camera goes into Detroit, a city it first pans from up above, out of focus for some reason. The clichéd chase that follows, and the background music in this sequence in which Aadhi emerges successful, is disappointing if you had gone with expectations. The teaser that came months ago and the new director Nirmal Sahadev who had written the script for Shyamaprasad’s Hey Jude, had given some hope of a new genre.
The attempt is appreciable. They have tried to create a mafia chain, ruled by drug lords - if you fall into it, you can’t get out of it. Aadhi and his uncle Bhaskaran (Nandhu) had fallen in long ago. They try to get out, making deals with Damodar (Rahman) and his brother Selvam (Ashwin Kumar), who are ruling the world of drugs in Detroit, fighting with a Polish rival called Antony. One may wonder where all the Americans went, when the Indians and the Polish were taking over their city.
Aadhi introduces Detroit to you with a little history, making a vague comparison to the Nair family system in Kerala. How both once had a "prestigious" past but lost it to time, and how Kerala gave up but Detroit didn’t. One is not sure why this caste glorification was necessary.
Without a single smile, with that predictable tough guy demeanour, Prithvi again becomes the sad stereotype of an angry young man. But his lines are spoken without drama while that can’t be said about the rest of the cast. Isha Talwar’s Seema speaks slow and measured Malayalam, making the script more artificial. So does Seema’s teenage daughter Deepika.
Rahman, otherwise a good actor, too seemed a little out of sync with his Tamil ‘villainy’ lines. Nandhu doesn’t disappoint though, and gives his usual natural performance. In fact director Shyamaprasad too plays his small role as Chandran pretty well.
Jakes Bejoy’s music is commendable, especially with the song 'Pathiye'. Only the placement of the songs seems wrong. They pour in as Prithvi suddenly begins to jog in the middle of a scene, and past sequences just flash by.
The artificiality fades a little in the second half of the film, when it picks pace. Thankfully Isha gets some prominence here, and is more than being a pretty face in a confused role. Prithvi’s lines to Nandhu appear real. The movie’s treatment of sorrow and love is neat too - subtle and contained.
Nirmal Sahadev should not be written off. The idea is novel, the work is real. Ranam could be mended, and with a few tweaks, a few brushing off of clichés, made into a memorable picture.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.