Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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    Ratnan Prapanch movie review: Dhananjay’s Ratnakara travels in search of his mother, family

    Movie Stills (Photo Credits: Amazon Prime Video)

    Movie Stills (Photo Credits: Amazon Prime Video)

    Ratnan Prapanch | Director: Rohit Medal

    Mold: Dhananjay, Reba Monica John, Umashree, Shruti, Pramod Panju, Anu Prabhakar, Achyut Kumar

    Language: Kannada | Runtime: 147 minutes| Rating: 3.5

    Who is a mother? Who gave birth to you or who raised you? And, what is family? These are some of the questions that Rohit Padaki raises in his aptly crafted Ratnan Prapanch on Amazon Prime Video. The film is backed by writing which is mostly on track and has an excellent cast, titled Dhannay, which nicely illustrates the boredom in his life and the turmoil that follows. However, my personal choice would be old ladies like Umashree and Shruti-Umashree and Shruti. Umashree essays the more problematic of the characters – Saroja, who gets loud, scolding, name-calling and abusing as if there is no tomorrow. But she also loves her children—even if that love always borders on abusive and scolding—Pudina and her pet dog.

    Shruti, as always, has a majestic personality. It is Yelavva, the firebrand villager that people look up to, who can fire a pistol with the same agility with which she bakes and serves loaves of bread.

    The film’s journey, as it were, begins when Ratnakar learns that he has been adopted. The way the news has been broken for him is bordering on trauma. Was this the intention? Did reporter Mayuri, played by the iconic Reba Monica John, even realize what she was telling him when she casually mentioned that she adopted him?

    This news sets up a chain of events. Ratnakar sets out to retrieve what he thinks is his original life. He has to find out who his mother is. Saroja is broken, but looks at her. And, through the process of finding his mother, Ratna realizes that he has always been with the Ek. He learns that he has siblings and goes to Kashmir to locate one of them.

    Mayuri, who has an overly possessive, controlling boyfriend (is this the first time we’re seeing a character in Kannada cinema without any sympathy, allows the audience to see that she What is it?) travels with Ratna. , and opens your eyes to the world in more ways than one. She has a backstory, featuring transgender activist Akkai Padmashali as her adoptive mother Parvva. Meeting Parvva is probably the first time Ratna sees motherhood for what it is. And, he, who once hated his mother’s open affection and embrace, finally learns to accept a hug.

    A second sibling is talked about, and the search takes them to northern Karnataka, where we meet Udal Babu Rao, played by the very influential Pramod Panju. Again, Babu Rao’s character is problematic – he’s the village bully who loves Benny, who doesn’t retaliate. He follows her, and even helps Mayuri woo her in English. Obviously, she falls for it. This movie could have tackled this angle better, for sure!

    Eventually, Babu also finds out who his mother is and why he loves her.

    Does Ratna go out in search of her real mother? Does he give up on his quest to return home? Or is his mother his world, his plan?

    Rohit started writing to his women before the factions came, I loved it. After years of sacrificing mothers on screen, it is refreshing to see someone (Saroja) adopting, discussing her upbringing and then asking the boys to leave her in their television serial. The daughter-in-law is happy to inform her husband that the child is sleeping, so can we go to the other room to watch a movie. This is when Saroja taunts him by calling him ‘work from home’ and wants him to be happy seeing her sleeping baby’s breath. Triveni, who leaves her three children for others, is seen working on a fishing vessel – hardworking as ever, and one who survives and is sympathetic even after her children become second.

    The weakest link, yet the most beautiful in appearance, is the Kashmir angle. Full marks to cinematographer Srisha Kuduvalli whose frames serve as a beautiful geographical bookmark.

    Is this a perfect film? Not by any stretch. But, after a lapse of almost two years, this is the first direct-to-OTT Kannada film that is worth it. Basically a talking film takes 2.5 hours of effort to maintain interest. And, the director manages to do just that.

    If he manages to overcome the temptation to revisit the old customs, Rohit Padaki can be a great addition to the list of good contemporary Kannada filmmakers.

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