The cudgels are out. Beware, it's RGV who reigns at the screens in Chennai and the rest of Tamil Nadu. Ram Gopal Varma, whose Nagarjuna-starring "Udhayam" is still fresh in the minds the viewers despite the two-decade gap, is back in his inimitable style with his next flick titled "Raktha Charithiram" that stars Suriya in a central role.
As expected, "Raktha Charithiram" turns out to be a morbid tale but appears to be a documentary, very much unlike the RGV we are familiar with. Despite the disclaimer at the beginning that the story is a fictitious one, everyone knows that it is the tale of a bitter feud between Paritala Ravi and Surya against the backdrop of the murky world of Andhra Pradesh politics during the '80s and the better part of the '90s.
For reasons best known to him, RGV has made it as a two-part film in its Telugu and Hindi versions, whereas the Tamil version has just one part, with the focus obviously on Surya (the role played with amazing proportions by Suriya).
In fact, deviating from the typical Tamil film style, Suriya makes a fantastic entry only after 23 minutes from the start of the film.
For the benefit of Tamil viewers, director Gautham Menon narrates (in the backdrop) as to what happened in the first part of the film to throw light on the reason behind the hatred and animosity between the two principal players, Pratap (Vivek Oberoi) and Surya (Suriya).
The story kicks off in Anandapuram, a sleepy remote village somewhere in rural Tamil Nadu. The powerful feudal landlord and political leader Narasimha Moorthy (Kitty) wants to make Veerabhadran, his friend, a big player in the local politics. Moorthy's brother Nagamani (Kota Srinivasa Rao) gets jealous and plans to kill Veerabhadran.
Pratap, Veerabhadran's son, is a Good Samaritan in love with Nandini (Radhika Apte). He, however, wants to take revenge on the Moorthy family. He joins the party of politician Sivaji (Shatrungnan Sinha) and becomes a minister in his cabinet.
Now enters Surya (Suriya), a construction engineer who loves and wants to marry Bhavani (Priyamani). He returns to his village soon after hearing the cold-blooded murder of his father Moorthy. Unlike Pratap, Surya doesn't want any revenge for his father's death but only wants safe passage to the city, where he wants to take his mother and brother.
The moment he witnesses the terrible death of his mother and brother in a bomb explosion, he changes his mind and sets out on a seemingly impossible mission to wipe out Pratap at any cost.
The film is a grisly, violent tale about two individuals who bay for each other's blood. It may even fail to touch a chord with the Tamil audiences as it's based on a true story which took place in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
The court and fighting sequences stand out with their smart execution.
Surya's powerful performance is the highlight of the film. The moment he appears on screen, the audience can ill-afford to take their eyes off him lest they miss out on a subtle change in his facial expression. Surya both breathes fire and oozes calm as he lets the audience feel the fire and ice within. His cry of agony at his mother and brother's death would move anybody.
Vivek Oberoi is the perfect foil to Surya and displays vulnerability in an effortless manner. Priyamani and Radhika are very good and just perfect for the role of demure wives of the two tough guys. The other actors impress the audience with their neat work.
Technically, there is nothing much to write about as the background score is too noisy. The cinematography, which always plays an important role in many of RGV's movies, is just about average.
However great a filmmaker RGV is, he could do very little with a weak script - this is what plagues "Ratha Charithiram" the most.
Watch it for Surya, if not for anything else!