Rathnam Movie Review: Rathnam Movie Review

Hari’s ‘Rathnam’ is the expected template film, with no great effort to make it anything but a template film
Rathnam Movie Review

Rathnam Movie Cast & Crew

Production : Stone Bench Films,Zee Studios
Director : Hari

The film stars Vishal, Priya Bhavani Shankar. There are some interesting ideas, but none of them are allowed to take root amidst all the speed.


If a film wants to be a template film and it ends up being a template film, then is there any point in saying that this film is just a template film? That is the kind of existential dilemma a reviewer is left with after watching Hari’s new template film, Rathnam. You know that the emphasis is going to be on the action, and now Hari is doing these long, one-shot action blocks. There was one in Yaanai, too – but that was just hand combat. Here, we have a stretch that involves a car chase and some seriously complicated execution. The attempt is impressive. One of the must-haves of the template film is action, and if you are going to try for innovation, that is a welcome change. But there’s no elegance in the execution. The speeded-up effects reduce the impact of the one shot. The other factor that reduces the impact of this action block is the lack of emotion. We care about a person trying to escape his enemies if we have bought into the stakes, which is what makes us root for him. Here, it is like watching a video game. It’s fun for a while, and nothing more.


Rathnam had the potential to be a lot more. Vishal plays a good-hearted rowdy named Rathnam, and Priya Bhavani Shankar plays Mallika, a nurse who wants to clear the NEET exams and become a doctor. In an early scene, Rathnam spots Mallika on a bike, and you think it is one of those “love at first sight” things. But no. And we get one of the strangest hero-heroine relationships in Tamil cinema – and I mean this in a good way. The strangeness has to do with how Rathnam sees Mallika, and how Mallika slowly sees Rathnam. It is love in both cases, but his is a different kind of love than hers. That’s all I will say at the moment, and this love is what makes him want to fight against the villain who wants the land that Mallika’s family owns. This villain is played by Murli Sharma, and he gets a line that goes, “Enakku vara aathrathukku moothram dhan adikka mudiyum…” 


What is this Rathnam-Mallika connection? What is Rathnam’s link with the bunch of Brahmins who suddenly land up in the story? What has all this got to do with the bandits who cause bus accidents and loot the passengers? Why does Rathnam take a photograph of Mallika? With some good writing and some patient filmmaking, we could have had an above-average template film – but Hari keeps cutting to the next scene before we can begin to register the emotional content of the earlier one. For instance, it is not enough to say, “I am your friend.” The film has to make us feel that friendship.  “I am your friend” is just information. There has to be a scene or two that goes beyond this information, and converts this information into emotion. Despite a 156-minute run time, we don’t feel for anything or anyone in Rathnam.


I liked Devi Sri Prasad’s song, Ethanaala – it is the one bit of genuine emotion in the film. I liked the super-cool way a hand is sliced in an action scene. I liked the way the land issue is resolved at the end, something done for the greater good. But these things that I liked only made me wonder why Rathnam could not have worked harder, even if the goal was only to be a template film. Why not have better template-comedy, with Yogi Babu? Why not have better template-sentiment, with Mallika’s family? Why not have more template-punch lines? The whole film appears to be constructed on a moment-to-moment basis. The hero is introduced in a continuous shot that shows him with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of booze in the other. This information helps in no way, except that it paves the way for a silly, time-wasting TASMAC song. In other words, the ideas are there. But they are never allowed to transcend the template.


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Baradwaj Rangan

National Award-winning film critic Baradwaj Rangan, former deputy editor of The Hindu and senior editor of Film Companion, has carved a niche for himself over the years as a powerful voice in cinema, especially the Tamil film industry, with his reviews of films. While he was pursuing his chemical engineering degree, he was fascinated with the writing and analysis of world cinema by American critics. Baradwaj completed his Master’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations through scholarship. His first review was for the Hindi film Dum, published on January 30, 2003, in the Madras Plus supplement of The Economic Times. He then started critiquing Tamil films in 2014 and did a review on the film Subramaniapuram, while also debuting as a writer in the unreleased rom-com Kadhal 2 Kalyanam. Furthermore, Baradwaj has authored two books - Conversations with Mani Ratnam, 2012, and A Journey Through Indian Cinema, 2014. In 2017, he joined Film Companion South and continued to show his prowess in critiquing for the next five years garnering a wide viewership and a fan following of his own before announcing to be a part of Galatta Media in March 2022.