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Rathnam review: Vishal and Hari’s masala flick is old wine in an old bottle

Rathnam review: With old tropes and old action, Vishal and Hari fail to hold the audience’s attention in this one.

When director Hari crafts a picture, you can expect plenty of high-octane action and battle scenes. Rathnam marks the director’s third collaboration with actor Vishal after a decade of working together on films like Samy and Singam. And, like other Hari films, it is set in the interiors of Tamil Nadu, this time near the Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border. (Also read: The Veil review: Elizabeth Moss headlines beautiful spy thriller, but this is not Killing Eve)

The story begins in 1994, in the hills of Tirupati, when three bandits attack a bus. The attack kills 26 people, including the police officer investigating the crime. The tale then shifts to Vellore a decade later, when an orphaned 12-year-old child saves Pannerselvan (Samuthirakani)’s life by killing the person who attacks him. Rathnam (Vishal), a small lad, grows up to become MLA Panneerselvan’s right hand. Panneerselvan employs Rathnam and his men, who are regarded as goons in Vellore, solely to assist the destitute and those seeking justice. To summarize, Rathnam claims that they do not kill for money; instead, they have ideals and reasons for killing someone.

As rowdy and do-gooder Rathnam goes about his ‘job’, his path crosses with nurse Mallika (Priya Bhavani Shankar), who has traveled from Tiruttani to take the NEET exam. She resembles his deceased mother, which baffles Rathnam. Who is she? Suddenly, an Andhra gang led by Rayadu (Murali Sharma) arrives to kill her, and Rathnam once again saves the day. Why does this group desire her? What is the relationship between Rathnam’s mother and Mallika?

If you’ve watched Director Hari’s films, you know there will be frantic jeep chase sequences, men wielding aruvals (machetes), and plenty of bloodshed. Some comedians also incorporate humour. Murders, accidents, and fights with men flying around are also common in Rathnam from the start. The film is high on violence, action, and humour (Yogi Babu, VTV Ganesh, Mottai Rajendran), but low on logic. While the first half establishes Rathnam’s identity and is satisfactory, the second half moves the plot forward with Mallika and wanders all over the place. There is no clear storyline – in fact, it is extremely thin – and some of the scenes do not flow with the rest of the film. We are carried from one attack to the next, with the monotonous plot unfolding in bits and pieces. The film isn’t innovative or exciting, and the emotional parts don’t work well.

Devi Sri Prasad, aka DSP, is famed for his foot-tapping songs (particularly in Telugu cinema), however this is missing in Rathnam. The tunes are sub par and completely forgettable. In reality, two of the songs may have been removed because they bring little value to the film’s story. Of course, DSP has nailed the BGM, which needs to be loud and thundering given the action.

Vishal gives a good performance, while Priya Bhavani Shankar, Samuthirakani, Yogi Babu, and Murali Sharma do okay. While Vishal is well-known for his action films, Hari’s Rathnam is not one of his most notable accomplishments.

The bottom line is that Rathnam is a template masala Hari film, like old wine in an old bottle.



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