Rangamarthanda: This High-Pitch Emotional Tale Is More For Those Interested In The Bygone Era

Brahmanandam is awe-inspiring!

Rangamarthanda (Telugu)

  • Cast: Prakash Raj, Ramya Krishna, Brahmanandam, Anasuya Bharadwaj, Shivathmika Rajashekar, Adarsh Balakrishna, Rahul Sipligunj, and Ali Reza
  • Director: Krishna Vamsi
  • Producers: Kalipu Madhu and S Venkat Reddy
  • Music: Ilaiyaraaja
  • Runtime: 2 hours 30 minutes

There are certain tropes associated with films related to old-age parents. These clichés seem to be a must, irrespective of whatever language the film is. The younger generation is always the villain and the root cause of all their problems.

The audience is meant to sympathise with the parents even if they are in the wrong. The daughter-in-law who cannot adjust to a joint family and her need to have an individual space is looked down upon as something bad.

Director Krishna Vamsi’s Rangamarthanda (a title conferred on a skilled theatre artist) pretty much follows this blueprint. But what makes the movie slightly different is how he integrates the life of a stage artist into this familiar tale.

Through the characters of Prakash Raj and Brahmanandam, the film talks about how performing on stage is different from living a real-life role.

The retirement life of a stage artist

Rangamarthanda is a remake of the 2016 Marathi film Natsamrat starring Nana Patekar. For those who did not watch the original, the Telugu remake is the story of a celebrated theatre artist Raghava Rao (Prakash Raj).

He rules the stage for decades. He takes retirement to spend more time with his family. Though his intentions are pure, Raghava Rao is too straightforward to adjust to the changing landscape.

His unfiltered attitude often becomes a problem when he stays with his daughter-in-law and then his daughter.

Ramya Krishna is a dutiful wife who adores and walks in the footsteps of her husband.

Anasuya Bharadwaj’s Geetha is the supposedly shrewd daughter-in-law.

Shivathmika Rajashekar plays the daughter who later turns out to be a villain because of a misunderstanding.

Siddu (Ali Reza) plays a spoilt brat and an upcoming actor who has a connection to Raghava Rao in the past. He spends most of his screen time listening to the flashback story of Raghava Rao.

After Prakash Raj, Brahmanandam gets the next big part to play. He plays Raghava Rao’s best friend and a fellow stage artist.

Unlike most of Brahmanandam’s previous films, the senior actor doesn’t do any comedy here.

Brahmanandam & Prakash Raj complement each other

The best parts of Rangamarthanda are easily the portions involving Prakash Raj and Brahmanandam. Their scenes have both wit and emotional resonance.

On more than one occasion, they move audiences with their emotional acting.

For example, there is a scene where the onscreen wife of Brahmanandam dies. Sitting next to the pyre, he wonders why he can’t shed tears unlike in similar situations on stage.

Also, there is a scene in the hospital room where Brahmanandam and Raghava Rao enact a part of the “Karna-Duryodhana” play in dialogues. This scene is a treat to watch even if you are not so much into stage plays.

Prakash Raj and Brahmanandam do most of the heavy lifting as far as acting is concerned.

Brahmanandam deserves extra points for his exceptional performance because he has never done this kind of role before.

With Rangamarthanda, the veteran actor shows that he is more than capable of doing heavy roles, too.

Shivathmika Rajashekar & Rahul Sipligunj excel

The portions involving Shivathmika Rajashekar and Rahul Sipligunj are good to watch.

Rahul Sipligunj brings a certain freshness to the table with his Telangana slang. The singer-turned-actor brings a much-needed liveliness to this otherwise depressing story.

Shivathmika Rajashekar springs a pleasant surprise by more than holding her own opposite both Prakash Raj and Ramya Krishna. She does quite well as a caring daughter.

The viewers feel bad when a small misunderstanding involving her snowballs into a big issue later on.

Ilaiyaraaja’s music goes perfectly well with the mood of the film. His songs have a certain weight and add depth to the woes of Raghava Rao.

The dialogues are a bit of a mixed bag. Some turn out to be extremely preachy but there are also some gems. Not surprisingly, most of these are delivered by Prakash Raj and Brahmanandam.

Cliched and overdramatic

What considerably pulls Rangamarthanda down is the pile of clichés.

The concerns about Anasuya Bharadwaj’s character are genuinely valid but the treatment is extremely one-sided.

Another example is regarding Telugu — how speaking Telugu is looked down upon in schools.

There is no denying that everything has become an English medium but the point should have been made subtly. The school principal’s role comes across as more of an NRI villain.

Another problem with Rangamarthanda is how it looks at the inability of Raghava Rao to adjust to his new life. We are meant to sympathise with him even when he is clearly in the wrong.

Simple problems unnecessarily snowball into bigger issues. Some problems have also been added for the sake of it.

The biggest example of this is the death sequence featuring Ramya Krishna. As viewers, we don’t feel sad as it is overdramatic.

Even the end message about looking after your parents are more hammered in rather than coming as organic.

The irony of the situation is that Raghava Rao was very successful in portraying different roles on stage. But, in real life, he is unable to perform the one role that is expected of him.

Above all, at the beginning of the film, there is a monologue in the voice of actor Chiranjeevi dedicated to the senior male Telugu Cinema actors. The photos of these Telugu actors are shown as part of the commentary.

I wonder why the makers went for screen actors instead of stage actors as the film is all about a stage artist!

Final take

In a nutshell, Rangamarthanda is for a thin section of the audience. Watch it if you are a fan of Prakash Raj or Brahmanandam or if you are an avid follower of stage plays.

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