Rakht Charitra, pt. 1, 2010

(Telugu)
Directed by: Ram Gopal Varma

I decided to stream the music to this film while I wrote to get me in the swing of things… it’s actually making me really anxious. Point taken!

Ok. Here is the deal. I’ve been all sorts of excited to see this movie because during my internship I spent a good majority of my time on this film’s set. Prior to the film’s release I knew this much about it:
-Vivek Oberoi was starring… and wore a mustache.
-It was about something or someone political
-It was being shot (or dubbed, depending on the actor) in three languages.
-Vivek had whispered in my ear that I was NOT, on my honor, allowed to talk about anything I’ve seen or post the pictures that I had taken until the film was released.
-Vivek Oberoi. Whispered. In. My. Ear.

Just imagine…
When I was passively watching previews before Anjaana Anjaani the preview for this film came on. Blood was spattering everywhere and I was having a serious deja vu moment but I could not place it. THEN I saw it. IT. “IT” comprises of Vivek Oberoi walking about in said mustache and a sequence of the scenes that I sat on the sidelines for.

“HOLY SHIT!” I screamed, very loudly, grabbing the arm of the poor auntie in the seat next to me. Having attracted the attention of the packed theatre I ducked in my seat. My heart was racing a mile a minute, I was blushing, very cold and sweating.

It was so weird.

I was ready and excited to see the film when it came to New York. Little did I know that while I was visiting my parents in Indiana that there was a one-night screening of the Telugu version. I booked tickets online and somehow talked my obliging mother in to going with me.

We arrived at the theatre, and were stopped by the theatre owner when we tried to collect our tickets:
Owner: I saw your name on the credit card statement. You know this film is in Telugu, right?
Momma: Oh, yeah, we know. My daughter always watches these things. She’s crazy.
Owner: Really? Well, it doesn’t have subtitles. Usually the Hindi ones do… you’re sure you’re going to see this? It’s not a mistake?
Momma: Oh no. I promise. Erin really wants to see it because she worked on the movie in Mumbai.
Owner: NO!
Me: *head bobble* Yeah, I had this internship….*mumble mumble*

That, is how I became a pseudo-celebrity. Basically I  got the most remarkable look from the owner, like he was going to kiss me, or hug me, or make me marry his son (or all three, I’m game… and his son was hot. So was he…in the uncle way.). Next thing I know he’s shouting (in Telugu) to all his employees and pointing at me. Momma and I collected our tickets and slipped into the theatre trying to avoid the mob.

I was famous!

Everything I wanted in my Endhiran audience I got from this experience. The theatre was packed. To the brim. They hooted and hollered and threw popcorn and whistled and jumped and did all sorts of amazing and spectacular things. I loved them.

I can’t provide a detailed plot analysis since I was suffering in the language department…. but it was pretty straight forward. It was political. And violent. And bloody. And Vivek Oberoi wore a mustache*.

There were humorous bits, and romance; and the best proposal/carrying away of a bride ever. Nothing says romance quite like showing up at your girl’s house, a gang of goons toting guns behind you, and simply telling her father that you’re taking her to get married, whether daddy likes it or not.

The movie went on merrily (ha!) and I was starting to get really confused as to when what I saw in India was coming into play when BAM! Credits!

It was over?

And then… there was a preview. And contained within that preview was everything I had witnessed in the filming stage.

Ok.

THERE ARE TWO PARTS!? I felt so uncool. Like all that I had been bragging about was a lie. And there I sat, a cad of the first water.  I was duped. And so impatient for the second installment that I literally started pulling my hair out.

It is/was/continues to be torturous.

Aside from all of that drama…

I enjoyed this film. Not only because I saw it in its raw form but because of a variety of other things.

The filmography was stunning. It wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t clean but that hardly mattered. It was stylistic. Everything through the lens seemed so unstable. Given that everything as a whole was unstable it was a really nice, unconscious touch. I say “unconscious” because the stability of the camera isn’t as concrete as if it were on a tripod but it’s not as rocky as if it were handheld. Granted, there are uses of the upside-down shot and tilted axis and so on… but overall it is a very subtle devise used in keeping the viewer uncomfortable and a little on edge.

Couple all that anxiety with the droning music and general blood thirstiness and you’ve got yourself one very nervous viewer.

Or, since I don’t want to generalize, one very nervous gori named Erin who couldn’t watch another knee injury with a shovel (it happened A LOT) since it made  current one throb in sympathy.

From what I can surmise, Vivek’s character, Paritala Ravindra has the moral high ground (in theory… what with the killing and the plotting) up until the end of the film. I could be entirely wrong, but until I have the chance to see the Hindi version with subtitles I just have to imagine.

What I liked and what I thought spoke volumes about the differences in Vivek’s character and Abhimanyu Singh’s** (and heaven forgive me if I have that wrong) was how they treated the women folk. VO’s was a picture of respect and inclusion and AS’s was a degenerate with lustful appetites and dominance. It was interesting to see them switch back and forth between both men. It probably served in my thinking of VO’s character as the moralistic one…

There was also a lot of no nonsense scenes including sex. Whether just sex or forced rape on an abducted girl it was nice to see it presented in a way that wasn’t cheapened by the “OMG! LOOK! THEY’RE DOING ‘IT’!” mentality or by some absurd guilt on the victim or any other such nonsense. So, just for that, Ram Gopal, thank you.

There was a female cop! And she RULED! However, her story line did not go the way I would have liked it too. I was a little sad, but overall very impressed and in love with her.

The cast for this film is huge. Everyone was slightly recognizable without me knowing exactly who they were. Granted, I am really, really, really crap with names and faces, so it’s probably all my failing. I thought everyone gave spectacular performances… and, this was my first Vivek Oberoi film and I was so impressed by him that I could hardly stand it. I won’t dally in the oddness of seeing him portray someone so completely opposite of who he is in person but I will give him credit for being a stunning actor. He employs my preferred technique of keeping everything a little restrained and behind the eyes. Wah! I’m such a fan of his now.

Overall, I adored this film but then this sort of film is right up my alley. A little intrigue, a pinch of politics, a smattering of blood (I’m so witty) and a fancy cocktail party to stir things up and you’ve got me hooked.

And since I am honorable, I’m going to wait until part II releases and then I’ll post all sorts of goodies from set!
…Unless Ram Gopal Varma, who is very nice, kills me.

*I’m obviously obsessed with this mustache. I am just a facial hair kind of gal. YUM!
**Forgive me for only using actors name in lieu of their character names, since without seeing the names typed below the screen I didn’t ever really catch them… if you get me.

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3 thoughts on “Rakht Charitra, pt. 1, 2010

  1. WOWOWOWOW you've got me envious and really excited to check this out whenever I get a copy which I hope is soon! Viveik looks sooo smoking with the mush, facial hair just makes me melt into a puddle! Damn Anil Kapoor for indoctrinating me with the mush loving at 2 years old!I can't wait for you part 2 epic!

  2. Awesome! :D Lovely write up, thank you!I've been dying to hear the goss about your adventures on the sets. You know, your comments on twitter about the film made me go and watch the last Melbourne session last night (or part of it…had to leave early to catch my last train, so only caught up to the bit where Pratap and gang threw in their lot with Sivaji). A really brutal, confronting, compelling film. Agree with what you say about the visuals, very unsettling. Vivek was brilliant. Real 'babyfaced killer' :DCan't wait for Part 2 with all the goodies!! :D :D

  3. Rum: You crack me up…! I hope you do get a chance to see it, it's really extraordinary. (Really? Anil Kapoor? Two years old!?) ;)Kellie: I am SO glad you went to see it… I don't think you missed much as far as plot development went. Just a lot of recapping towards the end. Vivek's "babyface" totally throws me off! It's spectacular.

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