I like watching movies that may not have an unusual trajectory but will have characters that will go through a variety of conflicts, ultimately seeking redemption. Ranam: Detroit Crossing directed by debutant Nirmal Sahadev was one such experience where the characters and their lonely helpless side stayed with me. I wasn’t really hoping for an action film and for that reason, the emotional side of the story worked for me in a big way.
Aadhi is our hero who is living in Detroit along with his relative Bhasker. The city of Detroit, now a premise for gang wars, has made life difficult for Aadhi too as his association with Damodar Ratnam, a Srilankan Tamil gang leader, gave him the identity of a street drug dealer. Ranam is ultimately about how people like Aadhi and Bhasker goes through a lot in order to get away from the radar and also from that city.
The trajectory of the story here has no significant uniqueness to its credit. In the trailer, we do hear Rahman’s character saying “Everyone has a weakness. Find his”. So yeah, the idea of blackmailing the hero by taking something he values is there for sure and that’s a really typical way of approaching things. But what I loved about this film is that how it creates characters with whom we empathize for the pain. Our hero is someone who has witnessed domestic abuse in his home. The heroine is a mother who gave birth to a girl during college. Bhasker is a man who came to become rich and ended up living a life of regret. Even the villain Damodar is someone who isn’t greedy simply because he enjoys power, there is the backstory of pain to that too. Through bits of dialogues that sort of summarizes the philosophy of the shift in the movie’s direction, Ranam is an emotionally engaging drama.
Prithviraj is understandably stiff. There is a level of heft a character like Aadhi demands. And he manages to deliver the vulnerable shade of Aadhi within that stiffness. Because of the ruggedness, his usual dialogue delivery which mostly has an overdramatic tone sounds convincing here. Rahman does have the swagger to pull off Damodar and I wished to see a little more of him especially if there were scenes that established his reasons for his greed for power. Knowing the limitation of Isha Talwar’s performance, Nirmal sort of gives her fewer close-ups and the awkwardness of realizing that she is playing a mother to a 16-year-old gradually faded away. Nandhu was really good as Bhasker who also goes through emotional conflicts. The young ones Mathew Arun and Celine Joseph were surprisingly good. Ashwin Kumar was memorable. Giju John as the investigating officer makes an impression. Nirmal has given a character to his Guru Shyamaprasad as well.
Nirmal Sahadev who has previously associated with Shyamaprasad in Ivide and Hey Jude, has a clarity about what he wants to convey and how exactly it should be felt. At times I felt that the too much of English that happens because of the backdrop of the story has forced him to include certain deliberate Malayalam conversations. The dialogue delivery occasionally sounds really artificial, especially for the character of Rani (Bhasker’s wife) and occasionally for Seema. A key dialogue in the second conversation teaser of the movie was smartly changed to the voice over and I think Nirmal Sahadev as a director has done such tricks at many places to make it look less verbally dramatic. Barring some bits of clear compromise to make it look commercially appealing, the making does look honest. The frames set the mood of the movie very nicely and the slick edits make it even more engaging. Jakes Bejoy’s music is fabulous and the title track is a one of kind song.
One major demerit of Ranam is its promos that sort of represent the movie as an action thriller. The central character and his deeds are the reason why some bits of action is happening here. But Ranam is ultimately an emotional story about a lot of lonely souls who’s Ranam is with themselves and how they eventually win or escape that.
Ranam is ultimately an emotional story about a lot of lonely souls who’s Ranam is with themselves and how they eventually win or escape that.