Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

October 22, 2010

There will be blood

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 10:40 pm

October 22, 2010

Cast: Vivek Oberoi, Abhimanyu Singh, Shatrughan Sinha, Sushant Singh, Zarina Wahab

Director: Ramgopal Varma

With Rakta Charitra, his first film in a planned two-part biopic of famed gangster-turned-politician Paritala Ravi, filmmaker Ramgopal Varma returns to solid ground.

Set in the 90s in the Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh, this violent tale of betrayal and revenge stars Vivek Oberoi as Pratap Ravi, a young student who swears revenge after his father and brother are killed by his father’s political mentor. The film follows Ravi as he takes down his enemies one by one, and is ultimately adopted by a politician (modeled after NT Rama Rao) who takes him under his wing.

Meant strictly for viewers who aren’t turned off by gore, Rakta Charitra is a relentlessly violent vendetta saga from a director who clearly enjoys shocking his audience. Scene after scene characters are killed in the most gruesome encounters, which include limbs being chopped off by sickle, a drill being driven into a skull, throats being slit, and gunshots delivered to the head.

Returning to one of his favourite themes – the connection between crime and politics – Varma uses many of the same tools he’s employed before: a deafening background score, gravity-defying camera angles and a roster of menacing-looking character actors. Fortunately Rakta Charitra is a more assured effort from the filmmaker, whose movies had become predictable lately. The fact that it’s a real-life story lends weight to the film and makes it more intriguing. What also helps the film enormously is strong acting.

Abhimanyu Singh is the star of the show with a standout performance as the despicable Bukka Reddy, a man who pushes the boundaries of depravity with his merciless, unsparing attitude. Vivek Oberoi oozes confidence and doesn’t miss a beat as he goes from a restless, angry young man to a shrewd political player. Even Shatrughan Sinha in a smaller part, as the actor-turned-politician who takes Ravi in, offers a restrained but memorable performance.

On the flip side, Rakta Charitra jars on account of a bothersome voice-over, and the unending violence threatens to reduce the film to a string of killings in search of a plot. The motives behind much of the action in the film feel simplistic occasionally, and the degree of violence itself is likely to turn off even the brave-hearts.

Yet in the end, Rakta Charitra is compelling and draws you into its drama. The second film, due at the cinemas in a few weeks from now, will focus on Ravi’s clash with the nemesis who ultimately kills him: Suri, played by Tamil star Suriya.

I’m going with three out of five for director Ramgopal Varma’s Rakta Charitra. It’s a bold, disturbing film that’s bursting with the kind of confidence we haven’t seen from the filmmaker recently. If the sight of blood doesn’t make you uncomfortable, chances are you’ll enjoy this film.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. I hope Rajeev reads this…!

    I was a lil taken aback when Ramu made a statement that this movie is not for women. I was one of the many women who walked out of the movie today satisfied.

    As some one from the land of Rayalaseema (where the movie is set) I enjoyed the movie doubly……I don’t know if it would appeal to those who are not familiar with the ways of this Land just as much.
    My Dad’s narration about Paritala Ravi and his likes is still very fresh in my memory. As the movie unraveled I could see the stories he told me come alive. This movie is as close as it can get to the reality.
    If you thought the motives were simplistic and the degree of violence unrealistic. I will give you accounts of many such episodes of which motives may sound simpler or even void. I recall Ramu telling that if the movie flops He will join the gangs because he knows them so well by now. Research well done!

    Reality couldn’t get better.

    This is a come back well received!

    More power to Ramu….. 🙂

    Comment by Sheetal Reddy — October 22, 2010 @ 11:56 pm

  2. Yes Sheetal. I agree with you, Ramu is back. He is a special director. I didn’t know much about Ravi or Suri. My curiosity made me to watch the movie on day one. In my college days, I used to watch Chiranjeevi’s movies on first day first show. Almost after 20 years I have watched a film on its release and that too first show. It is brilliant. I have watched the movie in Telugu. The only part I didn’t like is voice over by Ram Gopal Varma and his bad pronunciation. Vivek excels in this role. Abhimanyu Singh reminds me the sensation created by Manoj Bajpai in ‘Satya’. Waiting for the next part eagerly……….

    Comment by Prasad NLV — October 23, 2010 @ 1:15 am

  3. I know that you personally love Ram Gopal Varma’s movies. Its needless to say that Ramu had to come up with a movie so powerful to actually let everyone know that he’s still serious about his movie-making interests. The best thing in the movie,which i personally noticed was that the emotions had a proper justification. For an instance, Vivek Oberoi ‘s character doesn’t really come in as a blood loving, ruthless one. Instead there is a proper and an ordinate meaning for his personality change,given that his father and brother are brutally murdered. Now this movie might not be a proper weekend bonanza which might entertain you without causing you any harm. But instead it would definitely be proven to be as twisted as its expectations were.The director has made sure that every cliche view of the movie has been eliminated and the main focus should be on the story. Remember that the movie doesn’t really have a plot to base it upon. The biggest strength of the movie is the intensity created which mainly exists in the screenplay and some nice background score. Ram Gopal Varma is surely in a good nick and certainly oozes in confidence. Vivek Oberoi gives a performance which could definitely help him get back to the base camp. But the best part of the movie is Abhimanyu Singh who has already showed us his skills in movies like Gulaal. This movie definitely is the best bet of the weekend as it indicates that the director is here to stay and continue till he proves a point. This is a movie from a director who certainly believes to the core in the subject and his intentions. Probably one of the most interesting movies in the recent past which has surely delivered what it promised.

    Comment by Swaroop Kodur — October 23, 2010 @ 9:13 am

  4. I hope Sheetal Reddy reads this…!

    Ramu said, ‘This movie is NOT for the women IN men but for the men IN women.’

    Just saw the movie…Haven’t seen Ramu in such great form since Sarkar. Loved every frame of the movie. Great story. Great performances. Specially Abhimanyu Singh as Bukka Reddy & Vivek Oberoi as Paritala Ravi.

    Comment by Y. Kamesh Rao — October 23, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

  5. I am really stunned to read your comment as well as the same from other readers. I’m a big big fan of RGV, but honestly speaking, I didn’t like the movie at all. May be that it’s based on a real story. But to be termed as a good movie, just the truthness of the story is not sufficient, infact it should not be a criteria at all.
    Just tell me what is there in the movie except raw violence. How can it be termed as a good movie, I just wonder.

    Comment by Jagrat — October 23, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

  6. Tears in my eyes! That of delight! And amidst all the bloodshed…(there wasn’t much really…!! RC got me clapping because like Rajeev says it has been quite a while since RGV showcased this kind of ‘cult’..filmmaking.
    Being a filmmaker myself…my life depended on Verma…becoz people always called me the junior rgv back here where i make films. There were days where I decided to quit becoz RGV was constantly making films that he should not have made. But here…clap clap clap for the cult connoisseur !!! RGV IS BACK AND SO M I!!

    Comment by aravind kaushik — October 23, 2010 @ 10:33 pm

  7. @Jagrat

    There is a lot more than RAW violence in the movie. There is a very well depicted motivation behind each piece of raw violence. And the motivations themselves are well enacted – be it the father being murdered ruthlessly or the brother being killed in police station.

    If you didn’t like this movie then you probably didn’t like Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Volumes. You probably won’t like Steven Speilbergs Oscar Winning Schindler’s List. You would find the true story of Nazi Germany depicted in the movie to be just a string of Raw Violent acts.

    This becomes even more sensible because it is actually true as being vouched by so many telugus. Read Sheetal comments above and by other elsewhere on Internet.

    The strongest favored point of this movie (as for any other movie should be) is the wonderful performances by each of the actors.

    Abhimanyu Singh’s Bukka Reddy is as terrifying as Ralph Fiennes’ Nazi Amon Goeth.

    Vivek Oberoi’s Pratap Ravi is as determined & planned than Uma Thurman’s Beatrix Kiddo.

    There is wonderful camerawork and music score to add to the entire dramatic effect of the backdrop and story. Infact most of the terrifying violent acts seem such gruesome because of the expressions of the actors themselves than the act itself. The act itself is shown for quite brief moment. Its the expressions that are well captured.

    There is more political dosage and tactics in this movie than Rajneeti.

    I can go on and on.

    In every respect this movie is GREAT MOVIE.

    Comment by Y. Kamesh Rao — October 25, 2010 @ 9:03 am

  8. @ Kamesh Rao
    You vouch for it just the way I fight for most of RGV’s movies with my friends who reject them outright. 🙂

    Yes, U r correct – that – I didnt like Kill Bill as a movie, except it’s action sequences. Haven’t watched Schindler’s List, so can’t comment on this.
    Coming back to Rakta Charitra –
    Story is true, I do agree. But as I said earlier, truthness of the story should not and is not a criteria for terming a movie as good.
    Next is Camera angles, background music and characters having terror generating expressive faces – these 3 aspects are so very common in all most all RGV movies that it fails to generate any more excitement or thrill and hence fails to help the movie in being rated as good.
    Script/Screenplay – every next move is so very predictable.
    Next comes acting – Ofcourse this si the only solace I foung in this movie. Great performance by Abhimanyu and a good one by Vivek.
    Now can this single aspect earn the movie a 3 star rating ?

    Comment by Jagrat — October 25, 2010 @ 2:37 pm

  9. @kamesh rao…dear sir..definitely the truthfulness of a story cannot alone make a film ‘good’.. actually i feel a good film and a good story are entirely different topics… raktachartira is fiction that is based on a true incident.. Why a film becomes good is because of the pov of the director..his take on the story…how he looks at it…with what intent and so on..and that dear sir is important in Raktacharitra. Camera angles…background music are all part of the storytelling technique and so please do not view them in isolation.
    Screenplay writing is not only about ‘what happens next..? It is also about how it happened and why it happened..!
    And then ..the rating itself is a personal choice…I mean…rajeev masand wud give it three..I would give it five
    aravind kaushik

    Comment by aravind kaushik — October 25, 2010 @ 10:51 pm

  10. sorry…for the wrong @..the comment was supposed to be @ jagrat

    Comment by aravind kaushik — October 25, 2010 @ 10:53 pm

  11. Bang On RGV !!!!!

    Casting perfect, direction perfect, narration perfect, acting perfect,camera work perfect…………if I would have been a critic I would have given it 4 stars ( one star deducted for loose editing…….could have been tighter in second half). But kudos to RGV who gave us back our very own Vivek who is in full form, he shows that how he is willing to get back into the A-list which he throughly deserves and same for Abhimanyu singh , this was an unforgettable piece from him ( watch him licking the gun of the lady police and the scene where he cries like a baby ) ,truly marvelous.Shatrugan Sinha and Sushant Singh impresses in their short but powerful roles.

    Certainly this one is not for light hearted……..this is our very own Kill Bill.

    Huge expectations from part 2 ……….but dont do a blunder like RGV ki AAG……….another unforgettable disaster movie.

    Topic Over.

    Parul Kumar

    Comment by Parul Kumar — November 7, 2010 @ 1:11 am

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