Rakta Charitra poster

Written by: Prashant Pandey
Directed by: Ram Gopal Varma
Starring: Vivek Oberoi, Suriya, Shatrughan Sinha, Sudeep, Abhimanyu Singh, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Sushant Singh, Priyamani, Radhika Apte

Rakta Charitra, based on the life of slain communist/Naxal/political leader/cabinet minister Paritala Ravi, is the latest offering of Ram Gopal Varma. The movie is being released in two parts: first tracing his growth and the next about his fall. The subject is bloody--just going by the trailers alone, this surely is not a movie for the faint hearted. This is one of the most violent movies coming out from the Hindi film industry. The movie almost manages to meet the expectation it has set through the trailers. However, falls short of being a classic, though it had all the ingredients for it!

Rakta Charitra is the story of Pratap (Vivek Oberoi) who gets dragged into a family feud started by a political family (in Rayalaseema District of Andhra Pradesh, a south Indian state) which disowns his father and kills his father and brother. Once Pratap gets dragged into it, he transforms from being a normal college student into a bloodthirsty revenge-seeking son, who goes on a rampage, killing everyone involved in the deaths caused in his family. However, there is a big hurdle in the form of Bukka (Abhimanyu Singh), the nephew of the leader of the political family whom Pratap kills; he is now baying for Pratap's blood. Bukka is a short-tempered man, who tortures and kills people at will, abducts and rapes women and stays out of the hands of police thanks to his money and political power. Shivaji (Shatrughan Sinha) is a leading film personality who steps into politics and tries to widen his base in Rayalaseema, but gets chased out of there by Bukka. Seething in anger, Shivaji seeks the help of Pratap, and offers him a post in his cabinet, with the condition of removing Bukka. How Pratap goes about doing it and how he rises up the ranks of both rowdyism in Andhra Pradesh and Shivaji's cabinet along with the obstacles he faces is shown in this part of the story.

The movie is hard-hitting and brutal. The killings are extremely violent; there is lot of blood, right from the first scene till the final. Given the fact that this is based on a true story and the characters are based on real-life characters without much exaggeration, one gets a cold chill thinking a person like Bukka once actually roamed around! The deaths which have been shown are not exaggerated either and they are hard to stomach. Kudos to Ram Gopal Varma (RGV) for making a movie like this. Surely the returns on a movie like this would be minimal, as the audience for a movie like this is very small in India; the families would surely stay away from it.

The director is in his element, as this is the subject which cannot be handled by any other director in the Hindi film industry as well as RGV does it. There is trademark RGV is every frame, and you have unique camera angles as usual. The conversation between Shivaji and Pratap is worth a mention both for the dialogue and the way it's been shot. Performances are the highlight of every RGV movie; he gets the best from the actors. Vivek is back with a bang, and these are the kind of roles which he fits in best and delivers the finest performance. The intensity in his eyes and his expressions, the delivery of the dialogue--everything is just about perfect. One just cannot think of any other actors who might have done a job half as well as Vivek.

However, Abhimanyu Singh as the menacing Bukka is RGV's triumph card! He has shown a new villain to the Hindi film industry. Abhimanyu is a solid performer, as was his role in his previous movie Gulaal, but here he takes it a step ahead. Shatrughan Sinha has gotten a meaningful role after a long time without and he leaves a big impact. His interpretation of the lines is impeccable. His role is based on the iconic NTR (N. T. Rama Rao) and he manages to do complete justice to it. There are couple of songs: one which is played in the background; the other one, "Paise Wala" is catchy and the lyrics are against the rich, well-to-do people. In the climax, we get to see a glimpse of what's in store in the next part.

The drawbacks now. An extremely disappointing background score pulls this movie back from being called a classic. It's loud, mediocre and lacks impact other than in a couple of scenes. Also, the voice-over for the narration is very bad. The style is good, with some inspiration taken from the epic serial Mahabharat, where an insight is given into what's going to happen next...but then the voice of the person narrating it is as irritating as it can get.

Overall, commendable effort from Ram Gopal Varma, though might not get the box office status it deserves thanks to the amount of violence. It is surely not for those expecting a light hearted film with punches pulled, but it's a very good biopic with superlative performances and it lays a very solid foundation for the next part: Rakta Charitra 2.