Film: Ramleela | Director: Arun Gopy | Cast: Dileep, Radhika Sarathkumar, Vijayaraghavan
Of course, it’s impossible not to notice how closely some things in Ramaleela run to the recent events in the life of its lead actor. Some sequences and dialogues are unmistakably similar to recent events. But then the producers claim that the movie was shot before the actress abduction scandal. If so, someone with no knowledge of these events might be forgiven for thinking that Ramaleela draws inspiration from Dileep’s current predicament.
Dileep’s character Advocate Ramanunni is a feisty and vengeful protagonist around whom director Arun Gopy spins an engaging political thriller.
Certain events in the life of Ramanunni, son of the martyr Raghavan, prompt him to switch sides from the ruling Communist Democratic Party to the opposition. His crossover doesn’t go down well with a few, including his mother who is a staunch communist. As he readies to face an election, Ramanunni’s world comes crashing down and he finds himself in the dock. He then sets out to prove his innocence. Sounds familiar?
Malayalam films have had their share of political dramas over the years and Ramaleela is the latest in that genre. The highlight, obviously, is the representation of the protagonist. I specifically refrain from using the word ‘hero’ because Ramanunni is not quintessential hero material. Rather, he is a calculative man. So when he ditches his party for “my reasons”, we are sceptical. We know his sinister body language and cocky expressions conceal something. Even when he professes innocence, we aren’t entirely convinced.
Ramaleela’s strength lies in Sachi’s slick script, and it’s a tale tautly told. The first-half is so pacy you are breathless as the drama unfolds. The characters are quickly established, the stage set and the narrative speeds up and then a twist happens. But Ramaleela slackens a bit in the second half. The conspiracy angle defies logic, but then the climax more than makes up for it.
In a deviation from the usual Dileep films, the actor steps away from slapstick humour. Instead, that mantle falls on Shajohn. As a fellow politician, Shajohn plays his part well. The best part of the movie is the situational humour blended into the narrative. With lines that take a dig at the present political scenario, Shajohn leaves the audience in splits. While Radhika Sarathkumar makes an impressive comeback, Vijayaraghavan, Siddique, Prayaga and Mukesh do their bit.
But, it’s Arun Gopy who walks away with the glory. He displays an acumen rare for a debutant director. While there is a chance that the actress abduction controversy may have an effect on the movie’s show at the box office, Ramaleela is indeed a thrilling ride.