The success of Rangitaranga started a new trend in Sandalwood – NRIs taking the plunge into directing, producing and acting in films. Ratnamanjari is also one such endeavour. The filmmakers have not only borrowed ideas heavily from different films, they have also tried to create a suspense thriller very similar to Rangitaranga. While the template remains almost the same, Ratnamanjari’s difference lies in a few scenes shot in the US. The film claims to be inspired by the sensational murder of an Indian couple in the US in the 1980s.
Siddu aka Siddanth (Raj Charan) is a botanist working in the US. He marries the love of his life Gauri (Akhila Prakash). They move into their new house and become good friends with their neighbours Mr and Mrs Nanaiah. One fine day, the Nanaiahs are found murdered in their house and the police suspect that Siddu is involved. But due to lack of evidence, the case is closed. Siddu, who is unhappy with the proceedings, takes it upon himself to find the murderers. When he enters the Nanaiahs’ residence, he finds out about Ratnamanjari, which brings him to Kodagu (Coorg) in Karnataka. The plot then takes a big leap.
For those who imagined Ratnamanjari is a spirit or a possessed woman, there is a big twist waiting for you. And unfortunately, that is the only twist and only interesting part of the film. The movie takes a lot of time to establish itself as a horror film. While the first half deals only with the murder and with Siddu being targeted, the movie takes off only when he comes to Coorg. The second half is all about Siddu trying to trace the ancestors of Mr and Mrs Nanaiah to solve their murder while encountering several questionably interesting personalities like Nanaiah’s adopted brother Ganapathy, his lover and chief of the village gram panchayat Kannika (Shraddha Salian) and others.
Borrowing from several horror films, the movie follows a very boring and clichéd template – the protagonist getting bad dreams about a particular house in a far-off land and going on a quest, the sound of anklets jingling at night, a really huge house shot from different angles and shown every now and then, and finally the introduction of new (read old) Kodava culture and landscape.
While the movie doesn’t give up on the suspense part easily, it is the execution that mars the film. Though it is a debut attempt, the film doesn’t have a single gripping scene, which is the most important element in a horror thriller. The background music, which is the soul of horror films, fails to impress. The music doesn’t evoke fear or any emotion for that matter. Director Prasiddh makes his debut with an average script. The performances of the lead actors – Raj Charan, Akhila Prakash and Shraddha Salian – are below average. The technicians too are newbies, which is reflected in the overall film as well. The music album isn’t memorable either. There isn’t a single moment or scene that deserves special mention.
The makers claimed that technicians who worked with Disney have been roped in for the CG and VFX, but the output is shoddy. Last year too, we had several NRIs, especially from the US, coming together to direct, produce and act in films. This has been a new fad in Sandalwood. But when they hype the film and say they have recruited crew from Hollywood, the expectation is set very high. And if the output is like Ratnamanjari, the audience is going to be extremely disappointed.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.