Writers like Anoop Menon and Shankar Ramakrishnan have this style of wordplay where they will try to give a fake depth to something very flat on a conceptual level. Rani, the new movie directed by Shankar Ramakrishnan, starts by giving us a feeling that the truth will be grey. And he has created this quirky investigative officer whose procedure has some supernatural undertones. But by the time the movie reaches its interval point, the whole plot kind of becomes guessable, and the desperation to make it women-oriented looks lame on screen.
The movie opens with the death of an influential political figure, Dharmarajan, the sitting MLA of Dharmapuram. The police took custody of the housemaid, a young girl named Rani, who was there on the night of the murder. With the elections around the corner, it became a sensitive case that the police wanted to solve as soon as possible. The higher officials decided to take the assistance of Officer Bhasi, a man undergoing cancer treatment who has helped the department several times in the past in critical cases. What we see in Rani is the investigation done by Bhasi to find the murderer of Dharmarajan.
At its core, Rani is a basic revenge idea where the oppressed fight against the powerful. The issue with Rani is that as the movie moves forward, the intricacy of the plot gets loosened, and Shankar Ramakrishnan tries to make it look complex through pretentious dialogues and symbolic visuals. It’s just that you can clearly see the movie being oblivious to the audience’s intelligence. The entire film’s second half is very template-ish, and it was tough to sit through a creation that approaches cliches as fresh writing tropes.
Indrans, as the investigative officer Bhasi with that occasional eccentricity, was fine in that character. I actually hoped that Shankar Ramakrishnan would explore that character extensively to make the narrative exciting. But after a point, Bhasi is mostly there in the voice-over. 96 fame Niyathi Kadambi plays the titular role in the film. Considering the character’s age, she was an apt choice and delivered a good performance. Dharmarajan, played by the talented Guru Somasundaram, starts off his performance by saying the word Nanbhargale. The movie claims that that character’s death would influence Tamil Nadu and Kerala politics. But strangely enough, that character never spoke Tamil after that initial Nanbhargale. The bizarre thing is Guru Somasundaram is forced to say complex and pompous Malayalam dialogues written by Shankar Ramakrishnan. His performance had the level of intimidation one would expect from that character. But the decision to make him say all his lines in Malayalam was poor.
The elaborate star cast of the movie has names like Urvashi, Bhavana, Maala Parvathy, Honey Rose, Anumol, etc., playing important characters in the film with minimal screen time. There are so many first-time actors on the screen, and Shankar Ramakrishnan has no plans to make things easy for them. And you can only do a facepalm when you see these unfamiliar faces saying their lines with zero expressions.
The introduction of the character played by Indrans, the scene during interrogation where Urvashi’s character lashes out at the police officer played by Krishnan Balakrishnan, etc., will give you an impression that something interesting might happen in this movie. But once the film starts to backtrack each of the characters, every twist and reveal in those subplots makes the thriller less thrilling for the viewer in us. An overall lack of attention is very evident in many aspects of the movie. The dubbing is clearly out of sync in many places. The editing is kind of glitchy during certain conversation sequences. The movie’s climax tried to make things look like an epic conclusion, but it felt more like an unconvincing, over-the-top solution that may have worked two decades back.
I feel Rani would have felt like a passable cliche in the hands of an established director. But this particular version, directed by Shankar Ramakrishnan, feels creatively inert, and the director uses his vocabulary to create the illusion of presenting something profound, dramatic, and pertinent.
Rani is creatively inert, and the director uses his vocabulary to create the illusion of presenting something profound, dramatic, and pertinent.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended