There are no two ways about it. Rakht Charitra – 2 proves beyond a doubt Ram Gopal Varma (RGV) has lost it totally. After looking at his rise in part 1, part 2 traces the fall of naxal turned political leader Pratap Ravi (Vivek Oberoi) masterminded by his arch enemy Surya Reddy (Suriya,) who holds him responsible for his family’s murder in a televison bomb, from jail. A pity really because at least this part had the inherent drama of a dynamic one-to-one fight between Tamil super star Suriya and Vivek Oberoi out to kill each other and be far better than the disastrous part 1. But…
First of all, the half hour prologue of part 1 with the idiotic, constipated voice over merely serves in reminding you just how bad part 1 was and has you extremely apprehensive for part 2. And sadly, your fears are proved right. The screenplay and execution in part 2 too has enough of its share of problems with the spill over of some major shortcomings from part 1. Since RGV failed to do any sort of justice with tracing Vivek’s rise in Part 1, you are simply not with him on any level when part 1 ends and part 2 begins or even thereafter. At the same time, RGV has no doubt taken more care with Suriya’s character thereby justifying his desire for revenge and Vivek’s fall all the more in this sequel. In that sense, his central character, Pratap Ravi, gets a totally raw deal in this entire saga and more so in this film, the focus being on Suriya’s track. That is not to say, Suriya’s revenge seeking character, admittedly the more interesting one between the two, is free of problems either. His experiences are pretty similar to what Vivek went through in part 1 and having seen that, this film gives you a sense of deja vu thereby taking away a great deal of sympathy from Suriya’s emotional journey. Also, what sounded as a potentially interesting tale of a man, who masterminded the killing of his nemesis while behind bars, just doesn’t translate well to screen with the final assassination actually leaving you gobsmacked. The dialogues are stilted and spoken with grimacing and dramatic pauses as if everybody believes they are mouthing profound pearls of wisdom. And, the LOUD pitching of the film and the the violence like part 1, numbs you totally and beyond a point, you don’t care what happens in the film. Though admittedly, this part has less violence and more story, Ramu fails miserably as a storyteller here too with the film rarely coming to life, scenes poorly conceived and what’s more even more poorly shot. The second half, in particular, is plain dull and what’s more, the film continues on and on even after Vivek’s death.
Talking of performances, since Suriya’s character has been fleshed out somewhat better by RGV, his performance in this, his first Hindi film, too comes off relatively best in the film. No doubt he has great screen presence with an incredible ability to speak through his eyes, and in his more human moments – his anguish on looking at the aftermath of the horrific killing of his family members or his light scene at the construction site with Priyamani, he shows Hindi audiences what a fine actor he is. But come the action scenes and RGV totally ruins the performance as he makes him grimace and yell like an animal as he uproots trees, hacks people and what not, and suddenly the performance is typically South Indian larger-than-life, which Hindi audiences could find difficulty in relating to. His Hindi diction and unfamiliarity with the language does tell on his performance in few places but overall it’s still a good enough effort at doing his own dubbing for the role. One has seen some truly brilliant performances from Suriya down South and it’s criminal that RGV could not use an amazing actor like him to his full potential. Vivek is totally and unfairly defeated by the script and his characterisation – the repercussions of part 1 – though he manages a few scenes well towards the end of the film but the desperate humanization of his character here to evoke sympathy for his killing simply doesn’t work and makes his character appear weak. Priyamani as Suriya’s strong, supportive wife is not bad at all having handled Hindi fairly well while Radhika Apte is given her one scene of revolt only to revoke back to being the understanding wife.
One point here. The film is being talked about as being realistic. But merely having a raw and gritty look with loads of blood-curdling violence does not necessarily make a film real. With its pitch otherwise like a loud South Masala action film, how can the larger than life South style of ‘herogiri’ in the acting style, as unsubtle as rest of the film, which the film follows, be called anywhere realistic? It is typical of gestures of South film heroes the way Vivek strokes his moustache or Suriya shakes his shoulders on getting down from the police vehicle with handcuffs or the courtroom action scene where Suriya avoids the bullet (in grainy 16mm) doing Rajinikanth proud. So realism, really? And we’re not even talking of the main technicalities here that do all they can to be obviously loud and dramatic and, yes unrealistic.
In fact, the camerawork, editing, sound design and background scoring are all totally attention grabbing and full of over-kill again taking you out of the story rather than within and even shoddy at times. Badly composed wide-angled frames, tacky lighting, jerky obvious picture edit cuts, overuse of slow motion with all the big action pieces done entirely in slo mo thereby preparing you that something is going to happen thus increasing the predictability factor in the film. And of course, RGV has to have a deafeningly loud background score and sound design to hammer in the emotions and to punch you in the solar plexus to try and make you believe you have seen a hard-hitting film. On top of that, one wonders on the wisdom of shooting largely with the RED camera on which the film was photographed, giving it a strange and washed out look when finally projected. And it’s not as if the camera is at fault, one has seen the amazing results it has given in The Social Network.
All in all, the two Hindi parts along with its Telugu counterparts and Tamil single version merely highlight RGV’s inventiveness in marketing the film across various cinemas – Hindi, Tamil and Telugu and ensuring the film makes a decent profit thanks to the South rather than focus on any of his filmmaking skills he once used to be famous for.
Hindi, Action, Drama, Color