Rathasaatchi Movie Review: Seamless storytelling and superb performances elevate this film
Despite sticking to the hero-rise-and-fall template, good writing choices and terrific performances keep us hooked
It’s crucial for a film to place the audience in the shoes of its characters. During a crucial moment in Rathasaatchi, Narayanan (Madras Vinoth), who has just encountered Appu (Kanna Ravi) exclaims, "Enna kannu na adhu, eerakolai-a ve kizhichidum pola!" And you know exactly what he means. It’s such compelling moments that make Rathasaatchi an engaging watch.
Director Rafiq Ismail’s screenplay helps the audience explore the psyche of each character in this world. Fascinatingly, he manages to achieve this with a runtime that doesn’t exceed two hours. Macroscopically, the film seems to trace the journey of a young Naxalite, but alongside, it also tells us the story of a number of cops ranging from the corrupt to the suffering. One sequence in which three cops—the good, the bad, and the ugly—face off is particularly riveting.
Despite sticking to the hero-rise-and-fall template, good writing choices and terrific performances keep us hooked. Kanna Ravi especially hits it out of the park in his first project as a lead. Be it rage, empathy, love, or surprise, his eyes speak a lot. Tight close-ups serve to replace pages and pages of dialogues. For instance, when a young Naxal comrade takes a bullet for him, he doesn't scream; instead, we see him freeze and the camera lingers on his face as we see guilt and helplessness wash him from within. Other actors like Elango Kumaravel, Madras Vinoth, and Aaru Bala all play characters with well-defined arcs, and by the end of the film, all their perspectives undergo a sea-change. Any limitations concerning the scale of the film are offset by the excellence of these performances.
Cast: Kanna Ravi, Elango Kumaravel, Harish Kumar, Kalyan Master, Madras Vinoth, Aaru Bala
Direction: Rafiq Ismail
The film also gives us a lot of insight into the life of communists and Naxals without turning preachy. Appu sticks to the core principle of communism which involves gathering people for a revolt, without giving in to violence like his fellow comrades. A personal loss triggers him to turn violent, but this transformation feels rushed. I would have liked to see Murugesan (Elango) come to terms with the cruel manhunt camp instead of the relatively peaceful transfer he wished for. Taking time to establish these two life-altering moments of the two protagonists might have made their transitions more effective too.
The title, Rathasaatchi, is a term commonly used among both communists and Christians. Director Rafiq too had mentioned in an interaction with us that the title also denotes one of the early witnesses Jesus. Appu, like Jesus, makes an ultimate sacrifice. In the place of the two thieves on the cross, we have the good and bad cop. As the film ended, I was left hoping for a resurrection that might result in a sequel for this intriguing film.