Film: Mana Oori Ramayana
Cast: Prakash Raj, Priyamani, Prudhviraj, Satyadev
Director: Prakash Raj
Bhujangaiah ( Prakash Raj) is a well-respected man who returns from Dubai flush with money. While he is admired and respected throughout, he craves for the same respect at home, and gets furious when he doesn't get it. He constantly yells at his wife, is hell-bent on getting his 19-year-old daughter married, even though she wishes to study further. By imposing his demands on his family, he alienates himself from his daughter, his wife disagrees with him on every level and he's constantly mocked by his mother-in-law. Furious with his family, he declares that they will only realise his value when he's not around for two days. Bhujangaiah storms out of the house and gets drunk with his friends. Then on his way back, he spots a prostitute (Priyamani) and decides to spend the night with her, but just as he realises his mistake, he finds himself locked in a room with her. Terrified of what will happen to his reputation, Bhujangaih finds himself completely cornered. How he manages to get out of this situation with his reputation intact and how his pride comes down several notches in the process, makes for the rest of the story. There's a Rama and a Rakshasha in each one of us. While a lot of people might have immense respect in the society, they lack contentment at the place where it matters the most -- home. Prakash Raj's Mana Oori Ramayanam is a wonderful take on the dual characteristics inside us. With five national-award winning artistes in the film, there was bound to be quality. And sure enough, there is humor, drama, suspense -- all neatly weaved into a story set in a rustic setting of a village.
The rustic setting of the village fits seamlessly into the film and Iliyaraja's background score elevates it to the next level. With a run time of 112 minutes, the screenplay is tight and keeps the viewers hooked right till the end. Even though the title is Mana Oori Ramayanam, everything about the film is symbolic. Like when a director (Prudhviraj) loses his script, the inspector (Raghu Babu) tells him that it will be returned, since nothing is more valuable to the people than their respect and honour. The way the protagonists pride is stripped bare is brilliantly shown in a scene where Prakash Raj removes all his jewellery (two gold watches, four rings and two chains) and gives it to the prostitute, pleading her to keep quiet for a few more hours. It brilliantly shows how a proud man falls to his knees in a desperate bid to save his honour.
The film subtly touches upon the importance of family, of good friendship as opposed to opportunism and how despite our exterior display of machismo, deep down we're all terrified of looking within and facing our flaws.
The only negative is that the film tends to drag a little bit in the second half. But it's a minor issue in an otherwise well-made film.
Prakash Raj delivers a brilliant performance, both as actor and filmmaker. He lives and breathes his character and it's a joy to watch him on screen. But the best part of Mana Oori Ramayanam, is that it's not only about Prakash Raj. The others are equally brilliant. Prudhviraj, who plays the humble director desperately in search of his lost script, deserves a special mention. Priyamani looks stunning and delivers a fine performance. Satyadev and Raghu Babu are equally top-notch.
Irrespective of who you are and where you come from, Mana Oori Ramayanam is a film you can watch with your family and heartily enjoy it. Recommended.