From an ironic beginning to a rather preachy end, nothing about Ratha Sarithiram was something I couldn’t have guessed would happen.
The film begins with the usual disclaimer of all “similarities to any person/ incident living or dead” being completely “coincidental”. In the next frame, the director says “this is a true story”. The viewer should know at this very point that he is going to be taken for a fool.
Immediately after the disclaimer, people start mouthing what I assumed was Telugu. It seems totally like a Telugu film dubbed in Tamil. I lose interest. Then when Suriya comes, he starts speaking (and mouthing Tamil), which is fantastic, except for the fact that I wonder why he is speaking in Tamil to the people who are speaking in Telugu to him!
Some dialogues are even transliterated to my annoyance. For example, in the scene where Surya surrenders himself to save his wife, the police officer (played by a rather thin, tall Sudeep) says, “I didn’t expect you to give in. I wouldn’t have, for my wife”. Surya says “I would”. So the Police officer retorts, “well, there is a difference between wives”. The delivery of this in Tamil kills the joy of the witticism. Badly done!
The women in the film also need a special mention. Ratha Sarithiram is a man thing. They do not kill women or children. It is only about ‘man’slaughther, taken very literally. All the wives are expected to shut up and be supportive. Surya’s wife (played by national award winning Priyamani) is brave, outspoken and even contests elections, but Surya categorically tells her not to be his weakness but be his strength when she voices an opinion against his (with the very cliched enakku balama iru, baliveenama aaydaadhe).
Prathap Ravi’s wife is also asked to shut up when she voices an opinion (which ironically is against the murder of another woman). She refuses to shut up. In the end, Prathap Ravi (played surprisingly well by Vivek Oberoi) changes his mind to her wish. It only turns out that she ends up apologising for what she did! She had gone horribly wrong.
Having said all that about treatment of women in the film, in the least there is no violence against women, no rape, no obscenity and no cheap-talk. My thumbs up for that!
After all the unsuccessful attempts portray everyone’s grey shades, Ram Gopal Verma also lectures in the end about what not to be. After escaping jail and shooting a man to death, Surya comes back to tell us that he knows what’s right and wrong! Yeah, right!
I’m away to watch Easan soon. The memories of Ratha Sarithiram are best erased!