Cast:Vivek Oberoi, Shatrughan Sinha, Abhimanyu Shekhar Singh, Sushant Singh
Ram Gopal Varma
In a recent interview, Ram Gopal Varma emphatically declared that Rakta Charitra is not for women. He said: ‘They can sit at home.’ As I endured the incessant violence of the movie — sickles slitting throats, a drill boring into a skull, limbs being hacked and countless women being abducted and raped — I wondered if I should have taken Varma’s advice and just stayed at home.
Rakta Charitra is a bio-pic of Paritala Ravi, a politician from Andhra Pradesh, played here by Vivek Oberoi, whose career began with murder and ended when he was assassinated in broad daylight by his rivals.
This film is part one of this horrifically fascinating story, which illustrates the heart of darkness that constitutes politics in India. The murderous saga of revenge and counter-revenge begins with momentum but then gets bogged down by its repetitive mayhem, an annoying voice-over and exhausting decibel levels. Varma isn’t one for subtlety.
The sound-track is blaring and despite the rivers of blood that flow freely, every character feels the need to say rakta as often as he can.
The director has little interest in the psychology and evolution of his characters so Pratap goes from college to killing without batting an eye-lid and then, with the same ease, moves from outlaw to minister. Instead what seems to fascinate Varma is extreme behaviour.
As Karan Johar revels in beauty, Varma revels in ugliness. So he spends an inordinate amount of time on exploring the ways in which people can hurt each other and his depiction of depravity feels uncomfortably voyeuristic.
And of course like earlier Varma films, this one too features a gallery of singularly unattractive faces shot at peculiar angles and the requisite sweaty celebration song.
There are some powerful moments and strong performances here — Abhimanyu Singh as an unhinged goon is especially good. Oberoi also shows flashes of prowess and the real discovery is the surprisingly sober and effective Shatrughan Sinha. But how much you relish Rakta Charitra is directly connected to your threshold for gore.
If like me, it’s low, I suggest you take Varma’s advice and sit at home.