There is no doubt that film producer Y Srinivas and director M Ranganath are men of bold intellect. For, it takes rare courage to even attempt a subject about which even history has forgotten. Weaving a film around the life of the first wife of legendary dalit leader B R Ambedkar, Ramabai, about whom little is known, demands not just detailed research but also deep conviction and adoration for the subject.
But unfortunately, boldness and intellect require a tactful and sensitive treatment in creative pursuits. The ruggedness and the thoughtful reflection towards reality, if not handled well, often qualifies as weakness when telling a story as an art. Ramabai reflects this aspect since the producer and the director failed to take note that any work of art requires knowing the craft. The duo were so deeply engrossed with the subject that they even forgot basics rules of filmmaking.
As for the story, it is based on Siddaram Karnik’s work, who also plays the character of B R Ambedkar. The film takes us back to the 19th century and tells the tragic tale of Ramabai’s many sacrifices for her family while ensuring that her husband fulfills his ambition of becoming a barrister.
Yagna Shetty, who plays Ramabai, has blindly gone by her director’s instructions. We don’t see any transformation in her appearance even though she delivers six children and is a struggling woman. Her look remains the same from the time she gets married till her death. Siddaram Karnik has tried his best to portray Ambedkar, but remains ineffectual. The supporting characters do add some value to the story.
Cinematography by Gurudutt Musuri has limited scope, being restricted to the pre-independence period taking place in Dharwad and Karwar. K Kalyan could have put in some creative thought to his music, but he too sticks to the subject.
This is a bold ‘uncinematic’ attempt which could have remained a good literary subject for a theatre project.