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Rangasthalam Review

T J Reddy /
Can watch again
Good for kids
Good for dates
Wait to rent it
If there is one rule the world has reaffirmed over the course of the last half-decade, it is that elections are won with emotions and not facts. This plainly terrifying conclusion can be applied to cinema as well, even though the consequences of one might outweigh the other. Your emotional investment in a film is what makes your film-going experience worthwhile. You need to genuinely care about characters, their worlds, their stories and their triumphs/losses. Personally, Ram Charan Tej failed to coax me into caring about any of his characters in a career that has spanned over a decade. Playing Chitti Babu might very well be his finest hour as an actor. It took him long enough, but he has finally broken out.

Rangasthalam follows the life of the hard-of-hearing Chitti Babu (Ram Charan) and the many colourful characters that inhabit the titular village. The village is led by its President (Jagapathi Babu), a man who has stayed in his position unopposed for three decades. A man who seemingly has forgotten his name as he has never been addressed by it by any of the common folk he rules or his many henchmen who aid his tyranny. Among the downtrodden are Chitti Babu's parents, many a fellow villager, his love interest Ramalakshmi (Samantha Akkineni), and his employer Rangamatta (Anasuya Bharadwaj).

While the townsfolk are a bunch of frogs boiling away in an unforgiving vessel of water, Chitti Babu's Dubai-returned brother Kumar Babu (Aadi Pinisetty) will have none of this hazardous environment. And instead of jumping out of the water alone in the interest of self-preservation, he takes it upon himself to take the citizens of his village on the ride with him. The ensuing socio-political drama plays out on the streets of this appropriately titled village.

The streets of Rangasthalam, or Subramanyapuram with upkeep as we like to call it, act as a window into the raw realities of remote rural areas, as a rustic canvas filled with a rich tapestry of human emotions and as a conduit to the excess of Telugu commercial cinema. Sukumar and his team want to intelligently address the complexities involved in policy-making, the Herculean effort required to alter the mindset of a group of people who live in a miniature version of the fictionalised England in 1984, and the expanding divide between the ruler and the ruled.

Adjacent to this primary plot, they want to tell the very personal story of a family and its dynamics, and in true Sukumar fashion, painstakingly illustrate a flawed lead character. Add to this a throwaway romantic angle and a few sub-plots that are brought up and resolved every five minutes, and you quickly begin to realise where all the excess comes from and why every twist the movie puts forth does not land with the same amount of impact. There is a subversive and stirring story to be told here but the film's flaws and merits cancel each other out almost perfectly, and hence the clever subversion is lost and what remain are the raw emotions.

Breakout star Ram Charan Tej leads the pack while bringing these visceral moments to the screen. The work the man puts into wrenching every single emotion out of his character is almost jaw-dropping at times. There are instances where his polished diction and nods to his predecessors take over, but we chose to bite our lips through them because the film assured us that a spellbinding scene wasn't too far off.

In a cruel twist of fate, however, his world, the story he is in and the people in it fail to match the sheer dedication and over-the-top craftsmanship he brings to the table. Chitti's brother, family and friends are all played by fine actors, but are nowhere near as influential to the narrative as the film would like them to be. Chitti's every action is a reaction to a situation his cohorts find themselves in, but said cohorts give the audience no reason to care.

Not to mention, a villain whose menace comes from the many rules and quirks the script sets for him but not from the character himself. The unstoppable force has no immovable object in his way.

This can be chalked down to many long-drawn-out sequences that envelop a few quick-fire scenes. While both are shot exceptionally well for the most part, the director occasionally fails to realise that his grasp of the few quick scenes punctuated by striking imagery makes for many of the pulse-pounding parts of his film instead of the many multi-minute scenes that plod around aimlessly until a misplaced song or a haphazard edit stops them in their tracks.

Ace cinematographer Ratnavelu isn't the one at fault here. He masterfully captures every shift in tone and act. He employs POV shots, higher frame rates, close-ups, exquisite framing and some truly well-earned slow-motion sequences to make Chitti and his struggles palatable. Even though the film teeters on becoming a sepia-toned hellscape from time to time and employs some dodgy CGI, the man behind the camera reins these negatives in and never lets them overpower the film.

The same cannot be said about the music. Devi Sri Prasad composes some of his most inspired pieces of the score for his friend's film. Sadly, his errors mirror those of his friend. His insistence on overusing these bits of music rarely allows the audience to choose how they feel about certain occurrences in the film. The musical cues choose not to trust the audience, and hence stuff the film to the brim with notes with no due respect being given to silent reflection.

Rangasthalam the movie is like its star Ram Charan's beard. Even though it wants to project a sense of ruggedness and rawness to its proceedings, it is not rough around the edges to be perceived as such. Every follicle of hair is in its right place and hence the grooming behind the veneer is unmistakable. It lacks the unabashed political intrigue of a Subramanyapuram and is not the unflinching character study Aadukalam is. It is, however, Ram Charan's and Sukumar's best work in a long time.

Even though most of us have been conditioned by Telugu cinema to develop Chitti's condition of only being able to hear loud sounds and over-the-top acting, it is refreshing when we realize that theatrics like these when done right can remind us why we like the performing arts in the first place.
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Rangasthalam (telugu) reviews
Rating is quick and easy - try it!
  • Cast
    Ram Charan Tej, Samantha Akkineni, Aadhi Pinisetty, Anasuya Bharadwaj, Prakash Raj, Jagapati Babu, Naresh, Rohini
  • Music
    Devi Sri Prasad
  • Director
  • Theatres
    Not screening currently in any theatres in Hyderabad.
1 - 15 OF 17 COMMENTS  |  NEXT  |  LAST
Can watch again - No
Good for kids - Yes
Good for dates - Yes
Wait to rent it - No
creative channel on 11th Apr 2020, 1:31pm | Permalink
One of the best movie in recent movies.
I believe Ramcharan's role is best in his career.
Technically at top notch.

Oye Ninne Natho Vastava | Romantic Theme Dance | Directed by Ravikumar Pediredla
Spectator on 26th Apr 2018, 1:58am | Permalink
Lol, the reviewer needs to learn how to watch a movie first. And look at the rating for the performances, ridiculous. I wonder what is the yardstick used! Seriously, LOL!
Giri on 18th Apr 2018, 10:22am | Permalink
Performance rating of 6 ???? That's not fair. I think the actors did a stupendous job.

Pros: Actors
Cons: Too long
Raghu M on 11th Apr 2018, 8:27am | Permalink
While watching a movie in a theater, my mind usually wanders around (work, errands at home, weather outside, what next after the movie, what for dinner, etc.). But, in a long long time, this is one movie, where my mind and I were fully immersed right in the village "rangasthalam", watching all the villagers, rooting for Chittibabu at every moment, and I virtually, along with the rest of the villagers, raided the president's house to kill him. Only when the item song appeared on the screen did I realize that I was just watching a movie in a theater (yeah, there are no intervals in this part of the world).

Splendid performances from everyone, and the best is of course, from Ramcharan. Although the credit goes to the director, salute to Ramcharan for picking up a subject like this and he did not act.. he just lived the character all along. Not a single frame of 'overaction'. Kudos! The dialogues and accent, from every single character.. it's so authentic!

I respect TJ Reddy's review and rating, but as a common movie lover, I would have liked to see over 8. After all, not so often that we get to watch such movies in Telugu.
Shiva on 10th Apr 2018, 2:02am | Permalink
A bit late to the comments but here goes my 2 cents.
RamCharan has delivered his best, no second thought on that. Infact most of the other actors did justice too.
My gripe is with the climax twist - it felt like it was put on just for the sake of it. I would have liked it much more had Jagapati babu was kept as main villain and gave RC a decent fight back.
Just my opinion.
chaitu on 8th Apr 2018, 9:00am | Permalink
"Breakout star Ram Charan Tej leads the pack while bringing these visceral moments to the screen. The work the man puts into wrenching every single emotion out of his character is almost jaw-dropping at times."

My thoughts exactly! Never been a fan of his work, but this is undoubtedly one of the best performances by any actor in recent times! What a surprise!!
TJ Reddy on 5th Apr 2018, 4:27am | Permalink
This has been absolutely brilliant guys. Have had a blast listening to all of you and having conversations about film with some great fans of the art form. Hope I get to interact with all of you soon.

P.S. - @Madhu. Suri and Vara I've taken your feedback into account and hopefully can align my reviews to find some middle ground
TJ Reddy on 3rd Apr 2018, 7:47am | Permalink
I can see that many of our readers have watched the film and hence I can go into a spoiler-filled discussion here as to why the film is rated as it is.

This film is far better than your run of the mill star-driven blockbusters. The Jai Lava Kusas and Raja The Greats of the world are in no way close to matching what Sukumar and his team have been able to achieve with his this film. This is a film with a complex central character that attempts to weave in many plot threads while trying to paint a picture of a seemingly idyllic village. While I appreciate the effort and see that the audience at large has responded so positively because of a sense of uniqueness the film brings, it is not without its faults.

I'll list out a few aspects of the film that bothered me personally.

1. The Romance: The angle between Ram Charan and Samantha is riddled with issues. For one, all of them live in the same village. The film states that he has never seen her before the scene that has them run into each other. This is impossible.
Secondly, Samantha's characterization is off. She is shown to be comfortable with her sexuality and body in one scene and is more than capable of handling a local hooligan in one scene. And soon after she bails on those characteristics in the next one when she is being catcalled.
Finally, she may act as the character that incited Aadi to go ahead with his tirade against the system but apart from that one sequence (which could have easily been done by the many suicidal farmers), she serves no purpose to the narrative on a whole.

That being said, the scene where they profess their love to each other with that uncultured kiss is one of my highlights of the film.

2. The film's endless subplots: I loved the fact that the film took close to 45 minutes to kick into gear. It took its time with its lead character and made us relate to him before we went on a journey with him and that is exactly why Ram Charan is earning such universal praise for the very first time in his career. But that doesn't take away from the fact that the many subplots of the second half hurt the film's progression.

As an example, Ram Charan is thrown out by his family for taking money. He returns the money in the next scene. He has his girlfriend come back in the scene after. His family accepts his relationship in the same scene. And this is followed almost instantly by an item song. There are 4 highly emotional and dramatic subplots crammed into a 5-minute sequence with little to no breathing room and weight of consequence. While being a character-oriented drama, the film is also highly commercialised.

The film lacks control and restraint. The film had no reason to throw so many plot points against the wall simply because its first few plot points stuck very well. This is overkill of the highest order and because a director as obsessive as Sukumar will choose to cover his bases, multiple points come and go leaving little mark on the overall narrative.

3. The Villian: Jagapathi Babu's President is an extremely interesting character because of his surroundings and they aura they project. He in himself could have been interesting during the final act. The amount of restraint he exhibited throughout could have led to a satisfying conclusion when he reached his breaking point. His image is shattered when his crimes are spoken of by his own men and that leads to a violent scene. But soon after, he exits the film and it prepares for that final unearned twist I'll get to in a second. As the President does his best Saddam Hussain impression at the climax, I was left wondering as to how all his supporters went away leaving but one servant.

Secondly, the people turning to Aadhi's side isn't very well told because of all those endless subplots involving the Brothers Babu. Seshu Reddy says the people have turned but every scene before that has only the inkling of people thinking of moving past the President and not a clear indication of the tides turning. Some more time needed to be spent here.

Again, that being said. The whole town rallying behind Chitti as he storms the President's house is mass movie brilliance.

4. The Music: This film has some of Devi Sri Prasad's best compositions. He brings his A-game to his buddy Sukumar's films. The only difference here is, the film feels a need to be epic and hence overplays its hand with the music. The final scene with Prakash Raj and Ram Charan is so effective because of the lack of overbearing noise. It is a tightly shot converation that rides high on emotion and acting. It employs an audeince to see their hero's descent into a revenge fuelled state that has hints of his many personal relationships and his humanity being destroyed. The film refuses to spoonfeed this moment and wants the audience to feel it. This kind of confident and subtle filmmaking is not to be found everywhere else. Again, the point of restraint rings true.

5. The final reveal: The final reveal comes too soon and is a tad too unearned. The relationship between Aadhi and his lover is not exceptionally written (sitting at a tree is all they get) and hence the whole angle rings hollow. If it weren't for some strong acting, that segment could have ruined the film on a whole. Where Subramaniapuram used the romantic angle to great effect by having it bleed into the story, Rangasthalam uses it only as a twist with not a lot of credence put into it through its excessive runtime.

Even though I have these critiques, emotions drive how much one enjoys a film and not facts. I enjoyed the film a whole lot because of its presentation, acting and its atempts at telling a truly compelling story.

As a critic, it is my job to address all aspects of a film and not just rate it based on a stellar central performance. I am employed to dissect and discuss and in my world, the number rating means lesser than the points of discussion. That being said, a 6/10 still states the film is above average.

I know the film has received endless amounts of love from audiences from all walks of life and I am happier than anyone else when a film is loved and that love translates to money. When hack pieces of trash like the Transformers films make billions of dollars by being cheap meaningless trite, it pleases me that a genuine effort made by some people who care about their craft is seeing some returns too.
Portuguese Man-of-War on 4th Apr 2018, 3:51pm | Permalink
Quoting: "When hack pieces of trash like the Transformers films make billions of dollars by being cheap meaningless trite, it pleases me that a genuine effort made by some people who care about their craft is seeing some returns too."

If a film made billions of dollars, it means hundreds of millions of people enjoyed it. It would be interesting to know by what criteria one can say that what all those people enjoyed was a piece of trash.
TJ Reddy on 5th Apr 2018, 4:24am | Permalink
Ah but that is the thing isn't it? I never said it shouldn't make it's money or didn't say people shouldn't enjoy it. I don't enjoy it and I'm not the highest authority on movies so it is but an opinion.
suri@ on 3rd Apr 2018, 10:51pm | Permalink
You took a whole lot of space to explain why you did give the movie a 6/10 rating and that is appreciated. I think the director also did the same thing he took his time to show the characterisations and emotions in the movie. We can pick flaws in every movie even if it is an ascar winner or our so called great movie bahubali. But I think rating should be based on overall things..

for ex. my complaints with the movie are..
1) villain kills every man who raises voice against him at the very moment but not in the case of chitti babu and kumar babu even after chitti babu ended up beating his own men. He could have easily killed them before everyone realises.
2) hero stops a man named Srimannarayana on the stage while he was carrying a weapon in a bag to attack on kumar babu. chitti babu simply stops him and throws the bag instead he could have showed the weapon inside the bag to his brother and everyone else.
3)there is no clear reason why she slaps chitti babu in front of her father instead she could have told her father about her interest in chitti babu.
4)kumar babu must have expected an attack on him after the challenge he made in front of president. instead he was roaming around alone.
5)Why president character doesn't have a family??
6) I didn't like those dialogues between atta and alludu characters.
7)many more I can pick..... and most people do.

I think we have to take the overall performance of all characters and the movie into consideration..

the scenes which I gave me goosebumps are..
1) "Rangasthalam lo rajakeeyam modalindi, ennikalaku siddam avandi Phaneendra bhupati gaaaru" the whole scene deserves 10/10
2) Chitti babu saying to president while returning his money " Mee shakthulu evi ayithe unnayo vatiki oka mata cheppandi kumar babu ki chitti babu ane oka thammudu unnadu vadini muttukovalante ee chitti babu gadi gunde kaya daati vellali ani cheppandi"

Every movie has its own flaws thats why we don't give them 10/10. But you can encourage a different movie in recent times with good script, characterisation and extra ordinary performances by all characters.

I still think this movie deserves at least 7.5 to 8 out of 10 not at all 6/10.

thank you@
Vara on 4th Apr 2018, 11:58am | Permalink
I agree to all the points mentioned by both TJR and Suri (except one). And understand the pain in giving ratings. You see, I as a regular movie goer rate the movie more on emotional aspects and thus any movie make you high on emotions irrespective on the short comings will get more ratings. Now my two cents on specific points: When Srimannarayana goes on stage, is he really carrying a weapon or it could be a coffee flask. Second, I feel the director deliberately reduced the time/simplified the act of killing the president to give more time/stress (keeping suspense) on the killing of Prakash Raj.
Portuguese Man-of-War on 4th Apr 2018, 3:37pm | Permalink
Excellent point, Vara. I too like reviews that basically tell me whether my money and time will be worth it.
suri@ on 3rd Apr 2018, 10:58pm | Permalink
I apologise for the grammar and spelling errors.

thank you@
TJ Reddy on 4th Apr 2018, 2:45am | Permalink
I love this Suri. You see this. This sort of discussion about films, making of them and overall impact is my jam. I wait holding my breath every time I write a review for people like you who.are real fans of cinema and want to put your thoughts into properly thought out words.

Like i said, this is when the ratings go.out the window because the film has made you feel.something. it is something primal and deep that reminded you of why you love cinema in the first place. It doesn't make you hate. It makes you discuss and reason.

I absolutely agree with what you are saying and I know your method of scoring it is different and reading your reasoning has given me a whole new perspective and I respect that perspective. I retroactively would rate the film higher because of the debate it sparked.

The one thing I'd say is. Keep loving movies. Keep going to.the cinema. Keep supporting artists who genuinely make an effort. And keep reasoning and discussing like you are doing now. It will only increase your love of the craft and it will be snobby d*cks like me in check. Haha

P.S. - don't worry about the Grammar mate. I have an editor who makes my work look good and always gives me an earful about my mistakes too.
Madhu on 4th Apr 2018, 9:34am | Permalink
You have my full respect TJ Reddy.
Our brief was not the review but the ratings. I know you value your review more than the rating, but unfortunately the majority of the readers skim through the review but just look at the rating before going to the movie. I also do that and only read the whole review after watching the movie.
I saw your rating and thought it was average and then watched the movie and felt is was brilliant.
I read your review in depth only after watching the movie. I know there have been multiple discussions on the ratings on this site. But I think you should rate movies high if you think the general public would like them or should watch them. Also unfortunately telugu movies do not tie all the loose ends like well made Hollywood movies for whatever reasons, so we should give them some slack.
V Setty on 3rd Apr 2018, 9:53pm | Permalink
That my boy is true glory!
The Common Movie Goer on 2nd Apr 2018, 10:39pm | Permalink

OK, what the hell is happening here? You never have these kind of reactions on this site.

Truth be told, this film had the potential to be an 8.0 or a 9.0, but the pacing and screenplay totally killed the movie towards the end. Ram Charan's performance is one of the finest Tollywood's seen in a while. I've always loved his acting, but he just took it to a whole another level in this one. Accent, expressions, body language, dance...everything was on point.

But, TJ hit the nail on the head when he wrote that the visceral moments (especially the two defining fights where the director's attention to details, and Ram Charan's intelligence & character quirks shone through) are marred by the slow pacing. Some of the scenes were too stretched out, and didn't add much value to the overall narrative.

The story wasn't extraordinary, and the crew wasn't aiming for one either. The film rested on the shoulders on Ram Charan, and he delivered. A great screenplay was still necessary to bring out the emotions in the viewer, It succeeded in helping me empathize with the character at 4-5 points in the movie, but didn't at the others. That was my one complaint with the film. Good film, but not a masterclass. Here's hoping to more such characterization in Tollywood.

Pros: Ram Charan, Violence, BGM at some places, Visuals
Cons: Poorly placed songs, editing, pacing
Madhu on 2nd Apr 2018, 8:03pm | Permalink
I am a great fan of FullHyd reviews and I follow all the reviews here and I think most of the time they reflect correctly, but I think this time TJ Reddy has completely got it wrong. I have seen some of his high rating for Hollywood movies and I agreeed with most of them. I just fail to understand how this did not get a 8.
One of the best Telugu movie in recent times. I would like to hear Josh's views on this movie.Just some batter between colleagues would be nice.
ramki on 2nd Apr 2018, 6:10pm | Permalink
by seeing the ratings to this movie, I lost my respect to this website. Once, this is a genuine website for reviews,. Now it lost its credibility.
Vara on 2nd Apr 2018, 11:29am | Permalink
I would rate this at least 7.5. I know TJR is usually strict in giving rating and I mostly agrees to his rating and reasoning, but this time I disagree in both.
Suri@ on 1st Apr 2018, 7:01pm | Permalink
May be you should reconsider reviewing this movie again! come on man have a heart. A movie which is collecting more money in d3 than d1 means it's already a hit and you gave it 6/10 rating. You can change your rating atleast by now otherwise never ever call yourself as a critic. May be Ravi kandala had reviewed it properly....
Siva on 1st Apr 2018, 8:35pm | Permalink
A few questions Suri garu.

1) Should a review always be in line with the collections?
2) Is the job of a reviewer about predicting the revenue of the movie or describing his experience the movie?
3) Do "good" movies always make money and "bad" movies never make money?
4) Has there ever been a hit movie that you did not like and has there been a flop movie you liked?
5) Don't most big stars movies collect more money on Day 3 (Friday) than Day 1 (Friday), unless its a disaster like Agnyaathavaasi?

Thank you.
suri@ on 1st Apr 2018, 11:01pm | Permalink
here are answers for ur q's...
1) I would say yes. ratings and reviews must be based on genuine collections and overall user reviews. If a movie is doing good at box office means most of the people are loving it( ex. 86% likes in BMS) and I strongly believe people are not dumb at all atleast not all.
2) A reviewer must think like a common audience while watching a movie. Your review must be close to them because you are one of them.
3)Good movies that don't make money are extremely rare. A good movie with all elements never fails but a good movie with one sided script might fail at box office.
4)Myself? While watching a movie I always take a guess whether that will be a hit or flop and I never was disappointed. If I have to review a movie which I dont like I would simply say ' This movie is not my type but most of the people may love it'
5)Even if a movie is big star's movie it should be atleast above average to collect more than d1 on d2 or d3

I think I have answered all.


Are you the above reviewer?
Srinivas on 10th Apr 2018, 11:25pm | Permalink
Disagree that rating should be based on public response. They are two separate things, though they may coincide at times.
TeluguFan on 31st Mar 2018, 10:05pm | Permalink
This review doesn't do justice to the movie. Ram Charan's performance is not just his best but also one of the best from a leading commercial/mass telugu hero in a long time. This movie is a must watch if ur interested in good telugu movies. The reviewers flippance and non chalance doesn't do justice to the landmarkthis is in Telugu cinema. Please go and watch.
Sid on 1st Apr 2018, 1:27am | Permalink
Alright TeluguFan, I get it. You want the review to be different because Ram Charan acted well for once. But let's face it.
I am not a great movie buff. I only watch selected movies which are different than the routine mass masala movies that we get in Telugu every now and then. Looking at the music, theatrical trailer, I was definitely going to watch this movie. The expectations were not high for me,but I expected a brilliant movie from Sukumar.
My reaction after watching the movie : it's not bad. It's not brilliant. What should I say ? I don't feel like I will do justice to the actor in Ram Charan if I say that the movie isn't good. But, there are a few moments during the movie that I felt like Nah, this should have been avoided to keep up the story or emotions.

So, I agree with this review. It's good. Not excellent. Not bad.
TeluguFan on 1st Apr 2018, 11:56am | Permalink
I don't want the review to change, neither do I want your opinion to change.
But I don't want people who read the review to go away thinking this is another average movie which can be given a pass, which it clearly isn't.
The monumentality of (m)any great movies is, of course, realised much after they are done and dusted.
ramki on 31st Mar 2018, 4:55pm | Permalink
the movie already turned as a super hit. but you guys still sleeping
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