Rowthiram has a run-of-the-mill story. What makes the film different is it being in the hands of a director who is willing to consider stepping outside the box once in a while if not completely abandoning it.
Little Shiva (Jeeva) has just seen his grandfather save a villager from a gang by beating them to pulp. He's been perturbed by the incident. His grandfather says, "The first time you witness such an event, your eyes are going to be on the damage done not the relief provided to the man rescued." This particular incident isn't shown for the sake of it. It has determined Shiva's purpose in this world. He trains with his grandfather in Kalarippayattu and prepares to fight evil and take on injustice. The focus of the film is his unyielding involvement in issues that don't directly concern him. He cannot see a woman being dragged by the most powerful gangsters in the area and stay out of it. His ears are perceptive to the slightest shriek. This turns into an obsession and while he might be making other people's worlds burn brighter, his own world darkens. Family members fail to cope with it. They're overwhelmed by fear and distance themselves from him. That's just one side of his life. Another, revolving around an unresolved issue between Shiva and a rowdy named Gowry who is carefully planning to murder him. There's more screen time for planning than execution. It made the film interesting and credible. I've had enough of "Avana podunga da!" immediately followed by ten minutes of actors jumping about to the sound of sickles grinding against each other. By the way, what's this new trend? Heroine hits on Hero? Just because he beats up the villains? And her cop father supportive of it? Weak and unconvincing. In Rowthiram, gangsters don't need to employ corrupt cops to help them out. The crime organization works hand in glove with the police force to maintain a balance between order and disorder. I doubt if this is even the slightest depiction of reality but well, the film is a mainstream commercial so it's excusable.
Jeeva's character is the strong silent type. He doesn't talk, he acts. If you thought his character was likeable in Ko, you're in for a surprise. He has a natural screen presence and you see that there's a submerged fury, on the verge of brimming, within him. Shriya's not part of the crew to act, she's gorgeous and is the film's cooling factor. The supporting cast is effective and believable. Characterization and relationships have been moderately developed, and, the film neither takes a moral stand nor sides with its characters. There's little comedy and it's all right but the best part comes when Brahmins are pounded repeatedly. Gokul's direction is slick. Scenes are blurred, slowed down or faded to black depending on the emotional response desired from the viewers. By adding these inconsequential music numbers, Gokul has simply followed Kollywood tradition. They don't fit. If there's any way the film could've been edited any better, it's by dismembering the music numbers from it. The Climax has Shiva's father and father-in-law forcing him to snap out of obsessive-compulsive disorder. It's rather funny but it's an introduction to the final shot, which speaks more to the viewer than the rest of the film.
Rowthiram's a spicy dish with a bitter aftertaste. You could check it out.
Critic: Rohit Ramachandran
(3 / 5) : Good