Exactly a month (January 3, 2011) after the release of Ram Gopal Varma’s tri-lingual Rakht Charitra – 2 (Hindi), Rakta Charitra – 2 (Telugu) and Rattha Charithram (Tamil) on December 3, 2010, Paritala Ravindra’s nemesis Maddelacheruvu Suryanarayana Reddy alias Suri – the real life personality on whom Tamil superstar Suriya’s character was based – was shot dead in Hyderabad.
This shocking killing in broad daylight, whose timing comes uncannily close following the release of the 3 films, once again raises the issue of responsibilty that lies on a filmmaker when he makes a film on a sensitive and controversial topic and that too in a society that feels very, very strongly one way or the other on the issue. 5 years after Paritala Ravindra (or Paritala Ravi as he is better known) was brutally murdered in 2005, RGV, who himself hails from Andhra, stirred up a hornet’s nest with his 2 part saga based on Ravi’s life. What’s more, he has been freely speaking about the research he had undertaken, especially his interactions with Suri, to make his fictionalised account of the Paritala Ravi tale as ‘realistic’ as he could.Now, no doubt a filmmaker is free to interpret the material at his disposal any which way creatively but surely he has to realize the implications of what he does with it and sometimes has to handle it with kid gloves. In real life, while Suri was thought responsible for Ravi’s murder, it was never proved as Suri was behind bars the time it happened. Nevertheless, it was still said he had masterminded the entire killing from jail. RGV shows us in his interpretation that Suri killed Ravi directly by escaping from jail, shooting him dead and sneaking back after the job was done. This is taking an extremely dangerous stand on an already highly volatile issue in Andhra Pradesh and would obviously not have gone down well with factions opposing Suri even as the films re-opened old wounds on both sides. As it is, talk in Andhra is that the people responsible for Suri’s death were plants from the Ravi faction. Even earlier, scenes depicting ‘NTR’ in Part 1 in Telugu had to be removed and scenes involving ‘YSR’ also had to be removed from Part 2 of Hindi, Telugu and the single Tamil version so as not to show either of the leaders as ‘villains’ and to ensure the film had a smooth run in (Andhra) theatres. And while the rivalry between the Paritala Ravi and Suri factions go back several years and this could have happened anytime, the timing of Suri’s assassination cannot help but make one wonder at times that though surely unintentional, whether the films and the filmmaker’s interpretation had any sort of role, however indirect, to play in Suri’s death.
Sadly, the fims (I have seen both the Hindi ones and the single Tamil version) that RGV has made on this entire gripping real life saga are absolutely pathetic showing the depths he has fallen to as a filmmaker. At the same time, his marketing brain is obviously working overtime as the film still managed to make decent profits for its producers thanks to the price they got for the Southern versions especially the Tamil one thanks obviously due to Suriya’s ‘star’ presence with RGV ensuring that the Tamil version had no Part 1 as Suriya was not there in that part. That even the Tamil film flopped with less than 2 crores theatrical revenue in Chennai giving Suriya his first flop after 5 hits in a row in spite of his fine rising-above-the-script performance (along with the washout Hindi versions where Part 2 earned less than 2.5 crores nett theatrical revenue all over India) is perhaps poetic justice.