India's Premier Cinema Magazine

Malayalam Reviews

Rama Leela Review: A Flippant Political Thriller That Stays Loyal To the Lead Actor

RedditWhatsapp

A high-profile politician has been murdered, and the police is investigating the case. The suspects, two lower-rank politicians from the slain man’s rival party, are on the run. Look-out notices are everywhere, and the police is under immense pressure to nab the culprits at the earliest. At this crucial juncture, a new website starts uploading videos from the suspects’ hideout, and circulates them among television channels in the state. The videos have visuals of the two men talking to each other about the murder case, claiming to be innocent, and making assumptions and inferences on who could be the real killer. The state’s dutiful police force, parliamentarians, and the public, sit in front of their television, and watch various channels’ telecast of the videos, and cool their feet.

This ‘sting operation’ and the subsequent public reaction, utterly unreasonable by all measures, occupy the entire latter half of director Arun Gopi’s Rama Leela, a political-thriller. Writer Sachy’s script is proudly silly, and is uncannily similar to his previous work, Joshiy’s Run Baby Run, a thriller centered around two journalists wrongly indicted in a political murder. The film proceeds in an old-fashioned style, dealing with the subject of politics the way Joshiy’s Lion did. It is loud and overtly dramatic. Politicians back-stab, threaten each other, and indulge in physical assault.

Rama Leela releases at a time when its lead actor, Dileep, has been lodged in Aluva sub-jail since July this year, accused of conspiring to rape a young actress in February. The film has many a scene and dialogues that resonate with the actor’s humongous fan base in the state that sympathises with him. One of the songs in the film has lyrics that laments the plight of the protagonist (and the actor playing the role) who has to go on an exile for no fault of his, comparing him to Lord Rama. By far, it is on this sympathy wave for the actor that Arun Gopi and producer Tomichan Mulakupadam have built the film.

Ramanunni (Dileep) is a cunning politician with a dubious moral side. Born and brought up in a household of communists, he joins the party at an early age. When we see him, however, he is a changed man. He now calls communism an ‘old bad habit’ that he has foregone. He has changed his affiliations, and has joined the Congress party after a violent tussle with his former party chief. Moreover, he is a candidate in a forthcoming by-election. One step at a time, Ramanunni is learning the tricks of the new trade with the help of a new Man-Friday, Thomas Chacko (Shajon). Things turn dark after he gets embroiled in a murder case that he didn’t commit.

The film’s characters are poorly written caricatures, not the kind a political thriller of gravity would demand. For one, Radhika Sarath Kumar’s mother, a staunch communist, might remind you of the countless mother roles that actresses like Kaviyoor Ponnamma played and got ridiculed for. She pretends to hate her son’s guts, but every night, she waits for him at the dinner table, with a plate of his favourite food. Shajon’s Thomas Chacko is a goofy friend who loves alcohol, and supports the hero in his pursuit of the heroine. There is Prayaga Martin, hamming it up as Helena, a media entrepreneur whom the film wants you to take seriously because she can down a glass of alcohol as if it is water. She is named after a song from Anand Shankar’s Iru Mugan in which Nayanthara played a formidable female protagonist, Prayaga’s Helena is as unimportant and silly as the technical staff in the film’s police force who can’t locate the IP address of a website that is ruining the reputation of the state police.

Compared to Dileep’s filmography over the last few years, his Ramanunni is a tremendous improvement. He is adequately restrained in the role, and the cringe-worthy loudness that has become his signature style is, thankfully, less audible here. However, the slyness in Ramanunni’s nature is jarringly absent in his performance. The actor doesn’t look at ease. His body-language is stiff, and his diction and accent sound put on.

And, there is music director Gopi Sunder’s score which bears an uncanny and unabashed resemblance to Sam CS’ work in the recent Tamil hit, Vikram Vedha. It is this score that keeps the film going in the initial portions which are, otherwise, a cliche-ridden high school skit.

Rama Leela is a forgettable film that toys with the serious subject of a political assassination; and as a crime and investigation drama, it displays no exceptional intelligence.

*****

The Rama Leela review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

© Copyright 2013 - 2020 Silverscreen Media Inc.