The few missteps are not deal-breakers in a film that is fairly well-crafted visually and narratively.

Review Despite its glitches Rama Rama Re is an enjoyable ride through a straightforward storyScreenshot from trailer
Features Kannada Cinema Friday, October 21, 2016 - 16:11

It seems like some of the most interesting work in Kannada cinema is coming from first-time directors in the industry. This week’s release “Rama Rama Re” is not without its missteps, but is certainly an engaging ride through much of its run-time.

Directed by D Satya Prakash, “Rama Rama Re” is a road film in which circumstances force together a motley bunch of characters on a jeep ride through a relatively empty hinterland. At the heart of the film are a criminal on death row who has escaped from jail, and an old man whose professional conscience demands that he somehow return the criminal to police hands. The other two people on the ride are a young couple who’ve eloped and are trying to get away from their murderous relatives.

Resisting the urge to flesh out these characters with complex backstories and involved motivations, “Rama Rama Re” stays firmly anchored in the present, and keeps its characters simple. There is nothing about any of them that cannot be explained in a single line. And yet, the film is anything but shallow or bland.

Instead, the straightforward story gives its characters a lot of room for nuance, particularly in the first half of the film where the urge to lead the stories to satisfactory conclusions isn’t strong. And director Satya Prakash is willing to let his story unfold at its own pace, not forcing his characters to speak or act just to fill scenes.

This sparse process works because of the attention the film gives to the landscape and the sense of the world in which the action of the film takes place. In parts, the film is a stunning visual treat. With some creative camera work, “Rama Rama Re” grasps a landscape almost empty of people and activity, but gives it a sense of excitement that keeps you engaged and wondering how things will turn out.

It also helps that the members of the cast come with a fair amount of theatre experience among them, since the film tries hard to show and not tell the audience very much. While Nataraj and K Jayaram are more than competent and hold much of the attention, it's Dharmanna Kaduru, playing the male half of the eloping couple whose role is most enjoyable. By turns calculating and self-obsessed and by turns endearing, the character stays with you. Bimbashree Neenasam and Radha Ramachandra have their moments in the film too.

Although it occasionally feels a tad too intrusive, the soundtrack by Vasuki Vaibhav is an excellent addition to the film. The few songs that are scattered through the narrative fit the mood of the film, but also bring it closer home in terms of the emotions they create.  

The second half of the film succumbs to the desire for neatly tied up endings and in the process reduces what had earlier been set up as a more richly textured narrative. The way these resolutions unfold feel too forced, and one wishes the film had stayed away from taking this route.

The scripting also gets too preachy at many points in the second half, giving up the dispassionate but attentive manner in which it brought its characters together in the first half. The film could also have done with some tighter editing, as it sometimes drops the ball around the interval and after.

But all of these problems are only glitches and not deal-breakers, leaving “Rama Rama Re” slightly worse for wear but still an enjoyable journey through an unusual narrative and visual terrain. 

 

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