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Maryada Ramanna : Rajamouli’s Midas Touch continues…

July 27, 2010

Prologue: Ever since I saw S S Rajamouli’s second film, Simhadri, I have become oblivious to the possibility that he can go wrong. Seven years later, he has worked so hard that either we were completely awestruck by his work or don’t crib much about the loopholes in his films. I belong to the first category and in a way the following post might sound like an extremely biased perspective on his latest film Maryada Ramanna.

I can barely count the number of times I met S S Rajamouli in person; two to be precise. Although I usually see him at several press conferences, audio launch events, he’s at his diplomatic best when he speaks on stage. He’s not like his film’s heroes in his real life. People don’t gossip about his anger on sets. You are more likely to hear complaints that he works a lot which in turn makes everyone else to put in an extra effort. In a career spanning nine years so far, he has three of the 10 biggest blockbusters in Telugu cinema history to his credit. Simhadri, Yamadonga and Magadheera were ranked among the All Time Top 10 blockbusters in Telugu by India Today magazine. Dissecting his films is quite an arduous task. Right from the characterization to story, from emotional outburst to the mass appeal, it’s difficult to point out if it’s Rajamouli’s obsession with perfection or a stroke of luck which makes his films work. Magadheera is a classic example. It continues to be an enigma to those who have tried hard to edify if it’s a Ram Charan’s film or a Rajamouli’s film. Since it cannot be resolved, the success is attributed to a team effort. Fair enough. However, the day he announced his next film Maryada Ramanna with Sunil, it took many of us by surprise. Why would someone who had directed the biggest blockbuster in Telugu cinema history (Magadheera) announce his immediate next film with a top comedian (Sunil)? Having seen the film twice in the past four days, I think I have found one of the several reasons behind this question. It’s because he’s so damn good at anything and everything he does. Maryada Ramanna is on par with any of his films so far, if not more. And it adds a new chapter in the long dead and mundane genre of Rayalaseema Factionism in Telugu cinema. A welcome change and a whiff of fresh air, indeed!

Maryada Ramanna is unlike any film he has made till date. The fact that Sunil, Saloni and Nagineedu play the lead roles put aside, it’s probably the first time that Rajamouli has managed to strike the right balance between love, action and comedy. The film is surprisingly low of violence and gore, two terms which are usually associated with his films so far. It neither has any of the trademark Rajamouli’s weapons nor the usual extra dose of sexuality (glamour to be precise). A simple concept drives the story forward and the film derives its strength from a perfect cast ensemble and apt performances. The story of the film has been making rounds ever since Rajamouli chose to reveal the basic storyline in the last week of June. Nevertheless, Maryada Ramanna narrates the story of an innocent chap, Ramu who’s oblivious to the anger simmering against his family back in his native, Gandikota. Incidentally, he’s welcomed as a guest at his rival’s house and when the family gets to know his identity, Ramineedu decides to kill him as soon as he steps out of the house. Does Ramu survive this imminent danger which looms large on his face? Will Ramineedu succeed in his relentless pursuit to fulfill his promise to his long dead brother? That forms the rest of the story.

Five days since its release, majority of the critics and audience have concluded that though Maryada Ramanna might not be Rajamouli’s best, it’s definitely a good entertainer. In doing so, I believe most of us have missed few subtle points. When it comes to Rajamouli, how do you define “best”? He has shifted gears so fast that it’s difficult to point out what has been his best work till date. With Maryada Ramanna he has reinvented himself to an extent which is both amusing and seamless. Maryada Ramanna is amusing because of its gripping screenplay and story. And seamless because it has a distinct Rajamouli’s trademark in quite a few scenes and the director himself has put in as much effort as he always does.

Sunil has done a remarkable job in shedding extra kilos as well as underplaying his antics unlike his previous films. The extra dose of innocence adds charm to his characterization and it’s also easier for us to empathize with his role. A critic opined that his deeds in the film outshine his innocence. However, I beg to differ. Maybe that’s what desperation is all about. His desperation to survive leads him to do heroic deeds. Fear, innocence, attitude, desperation…I wonder what more emotions did Sunil have up his sleeve while enacting this meek role. Bravo! On the other hand, Saloni is quite a revelation. Her role as Aparna is beautifully written and there’s no denying that she was perfect in her character especially the expressions. Few days ago when Rama Rajamouli was raving about her in an interview for Southscope magazine, I now understand why Saloni made such a huge impression on her. Her costumes, styling (by Rama Rajamouli) suited her role and Saloni does a good job in the emotional scenes too. A special mention for Sowmya who dubbed for Saloni; the nuances in her voice perfectly compliment Saloni’s expressive eyes and face. Sunil and Saloni make an unusual pair and perhaps that’s what works out in their favour especially in the climax.

There’s something special about the depiction of Rayalaseema in the film. If you have noticed, there is no convoy of Sumos to depict a sense of urgency. No country made bombs explode in the near vicinity. And almost everyone underplays their anger and talks in subdued tones. The last time someone pulled off such coup was Sukumar in Aarya-2. Now, Rajamouli does it with grace. He digresses from the template set by B Gopal and banks upon the sheer talent of Nagineedu who plays the role of Ramineedu. The house he lives in becomes a symbol of his stature and also scores of people inside the house compliment the traditions followed when they are inside the house – that blood shall not be spilled inside the house. I am sure the family members understand what must be happening to people outside the doorstep, but then no one opposes Ramineedu because he’s not a bad person at all. His anger is justified and the only thing which brings out the negative shades in him is the age old promise that he would avenge his brother’s death. Sudeep and Venugopal deliver credible performances and the variation in their tones is worth mentioning when they are inside and outside the house. There has never been any suspense in the film ever since Rajamouli chose to reveal the story. We knew that it was all about how Sunil escapes from the house and that “how” alone defines the circumstances and progression of the film. I loved the fact that the film is laced with subtle humour which is barely enough to veil the simmering tension beneath the smiling faces. There’s no reason why we should crib about “lack of comedy” in the film because as I see it, anything more would have probably diverted our attention from the underlying subject of the film. Ravi Teja’s voice over for a cycle which Sunil uses acts as the sutradhar to the audience about the impending danger.

Rajamouli’s technical team has done an outstanding job yet again. M M Keeravani’s music and background score add life to this film. One of my favourite songs in the film apart from “Kitiki Pakka Ammayi” song is a bit song which heightens the tension – “Ennalaku Pedda Panduga Vachche….ammoru…meka ni kosthe medanu isthadi”. Outstanding work from the lyricists and singers, the songs of Maryada Ramanna are some of the most soothing compositions I have heard in recent times. C Ramprasad’s cinematography is worth mentioning for the colour tones, angles used. Kanchi’s dialogues and story forms the basis upon which Rajamouli builds the entire structure and the foundations are strong, indeed. Ravindra’s art direction is best seen in the house built exclusively for the film. S S Rajamouli is perhaps one of the very few directors who have managed to strike gold every time. His strength lies in extracting the right emotions from the characters in his films and infusing an extra element of anticipation which makes any premise interesting. In Maryada Ramanna, his flashes of brilliance can be seen in a frame composition which keeps recurring. Sunil is about to walk out of the door and he finds that they are several men standing outside with sickles, axes and swords. The slow motion camera, background score which heightens the tension and the expressions on everyone’s face on screen is just perfect! Thank You for proving cynics wrong, sir! I reiterate what I said over a year ago when I wrote about Magadheera. Please make a full-fledged mythology/fantasy film. It’s been too long since we have seen a royal war like the scenes in John Woo’s Red Cliff.

Maryadha Ramanna may not reach the same heights scaled by Rajamouli’s other films. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most convincing and wildly entertaining films he has made till date. After 110 minutes of nail biting sequences which I thoroughly enjoyed, I have no reason to crib about the climax which many have called as anti-climax. The conflict cannot be resolved in any other way once the whole scene is set up atop a bridge. Gulp this bitter pill and Maryada Ramanna comes across as a complete entertainer. And I hope we get to see Sunil performing those dance moves which left me agape. And I hope to see more of Saloni and Nagineedu, in future. Both of them are genuinely good performers and quite promising. As far as Rajamouli is concerned, thank you for yet another film which I can brag about with such extensive detail. The only thing which pricks my conscience is that this film is inspired from ‘Our Hospitality’, but I would forget it as quickly as I forget all about Chatrapathi’s second half! Two big thumbs up for Maryada Ramanna…its beauty lies in the subtle things, the hushed tones and a remarkable narration. Rajamouli proves a point here – he hasn’t gone wrong. Atleast not yet! For now, his Midas touch continues and all I am going to do is revel in his awesomeness!



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12 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2010 7:28 pm

    How come you havent mentioned Ravi Teja’s voice over .. I hear thats been equally raved about .. I havent watched the movie yet .. waiting for a release here …

  2. sandhya permalink
    July 28, 2010 10:26 am

    Rajamouli is really a talented director….Kudos to him.

  3. sreekanth polu permalink
    July 28, 2010 1:01 pm

    Hemanth Review Baga Rasaru….Congrats To U.. Ur blog Got Ranked No.5 movie blog …Dude U Had Forgotten To write About Brahmaji garu and also Prabhakar(bai Reddy) Character…Raja Mouli garu Specially Trained up Prabhakar And given A nice character To him..All The Best And Good Luck To U bro..So That U have to complete ur Reviews taget Of 200 By This Year..May God Bless U..

  4. yalkur permalink
    July 28, 2010 2:24 pm

    ok review.. but long… wat i felt after reading dis:
    1) shud hav ritten more abt nagineedu n his sons’ performances rader dan saloni’s xpression.. if nt saloni any1 else cud hav done it, but its not same wid oder characters
    2) n u hardly rote abt sunil’s dance n ravitejaa’s voiceover
    3) i seriousli dout de credibility f de info dat yamadonga is 1 f de biggest blockbusters in tollywood..
    4)wen u r riting on a movie, don deviate too much into oder or director’s previous movies..
    4) for de last 2 reviews, dey r too long and 1st 2 paras r utter waste..hope u stop it..

  5. Kishore Kumar .S permalink
    July 28, 2010 2:50 pm

    Kudos to Rajamouli…

  6. vivekananda permalink
    July 28, 2010 3:34 pm

    This is guy claims to be a journo but in reality he is shill. A SHILL. Yedisinattundi review.

    And he also thinks he knows lot of shit. On twitter he goes about claiming copyright protection in India is only for 60 years so this movie being a rip off from Our Hospitality does not matter. Marade athi telivi ante. The US movie will be governed by US copyright law and not Indian. Because of Berne Convention we will have to respect US copyright law in India.

    Asalu vishyam emitante yee discussion anavasaram. This movie wont count as a copyright violation. Adi cheppakunda half knowledge tho matladathadu brother. Problem comes because the director and story writer are being hypocrites by not revealing this inspiration before hand. We should also not forget that Rajamouli has a very very long history of plagiarism. (This is not to deny his talent though). Critical review ante yelanti vishayalu matladaali. Ante kaani neenu ayanni rendu saarlu kalisa naalugu saarlu kalisi bhonchesa ani kaadu.

    This reviewer in his last post majorly sucked up to his friends now he is sucking up to a director. Get some self respect man.

  7. yalkur permalink
    August 3, 2010 3:47 pm

    hey vivekananda..i dono abt all dos laws n copyrite things..but i agree wid u, he definitely rites favoring some people… dats 4 sure.. he’s got some talent but dis is overshadowing his riting talent.. obviousli he is not unbiased in his reviews… lets c..

  8. Hemanth permalink*
    August 3, 2010 4:03 pm

    @vivekananda @yalkur : Thank you for your patience and concern about my being biased with respect to my reviews. Well, I don’t think I can claim to be unbiased…I am not an in I have grown up watching Telugu movies and some of the heroes like Venkatesh and directors like S S Rajamouli have been a major influence as far as movies were concerned. There’s a part of me which tries to articulate the movie watching experience from an outsider point of view (something like how we write about an English film, for example)…yet, at the end of the day…I can’t be perfect or oblivious to my own perspective.

    Your rants on me are totally justified but calling me a “Shill” would be blasphemy…now that you have made the accusation…you can be assured that I have lost all hope of indulging in a healthy conversation in future! You can always find someone better…but I have a strong feeling that both of you know much more than I can imagine about everything and it all boils down to a choice which you have to make.
    1. Educate me with some of the knowledge you would like to share.
    2. Move on…there are definitely better writers on the internet who can impress you with their “unbiased” perspective.

    Either way…there’s something which both of you must understand. I am 24 years old and I can’t think like you or anyone else does.

    Good luck!

    • Surendra permalink
      August 6, 2010 1:41 pm

      Dear Hemanth,
      Can u please give me thi song if u have
      “Ennalaku Pedda Panduga Vachche”

      my mail id is.

      Thanks & Regards,


    • yalkur permalink
      August 9, 2010 7:43 am

      well i don read any review, until my cousin Ram,prbbli he nos u..i dono.. said der is dis guy very talented, very knowledgeable abt our movie industry riting honest/harsh reviews (sorry its review. onli 1..dats saleem).. so dats wen i bookmarked dis link to read every review.. i thot reading ur view wud b worth de time spend on it, den im jus as human as anybody i reacted to ur views wen i spent my time looking 4 unbiased good reviews..but des days u lost ur sheen man.. JN review was 1 of ur worst long, ask any1..n atlast u replied good 4 u..i dono weder u r riting to appeal 4 most of de readers or jus ur thots not caring weder readers r impressed..if its 2nd 1,well carry on wid ur long 1s, like JN (we wud neva care in future),if not change ur style f riting.. n as far as me educating u a thing r 2..well i definiteli can..but u r 2 busy 2 do dat.. n relax.. readers can criticise u jus as u criticise movies..u cant question our credibility jus as we dont question urs.. take a chill pill..start riting on DON SEENU.. wateva but im a loyal follower of wat u rite..

  9. Jahnavi permalink
    August 3, 2010 9:13 pm

    Hi Hemanth….I ‘ve never been a huge fan or Rajamouli for whatever reasons. But I thought MR was a good watch until I learnt that it is not an original story. Now, I am not against inspired adaptations and stuff like that but what’s important is that the director gives credit to the original story-something like “Inspired from” or “Based on” in the title credits.

    Its one thing to give due credit to the original source in the movie’s rolls and a total different thing to apologize when everybody finds out about the original source(which is what Rajamouli did, I assume).

    Being a reviewer( and a responsible one at that, I hope), I think it is your responsibility to point out what has happened instead of “ignoring” that the film has been inspired from somewhere.

    “Picking up ideas” from foreign films is not new in Indian cinema. I think at some point we need to acknowledge that fact, come out of petty thinking and fight against plagiarism. Only then can we make good films. Everybody should remember that its not just BO collections that matter(maybe they do) but the credibility of the director and the film itself is the greater cause.

    I think the film industry is answerable to the audience in the case of plagiarism just as the audience is answerable to the industry in the case of piracy. Why is it that they fight against piracy but encourage(promote, rather) plagiarism? As an educated audience, I would not like to spend a single penny of my hard-earned money on a movie that is not credible. I would not like to be taken for a ride.

    This comment is not personal or against somebody. Now that you are a part of the film fraternity, I just hope that you voice the opinion and anger of the educated audience.

  10. Kali permalink
    August 12, 2010 7:33 pm

    Just keep writing …more n more n more….People can love or loath,they should or else its always a mockery of their concisousness ..U r here to express ur views …Likthey jaa yara…Ni saitam ni Kalam undi saata undi, Enduku ra neeku bhayam dukenduku o tammuda.. 🙂 .Remember : “Left” can never be right …

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