Last Updated: 07.33 AM, May 05, 2023
In the absence of his parents, Raja Ram, a man with orthodox beliefs, takes it upon himself to raise his younger brother Vicky. However, when a crooked businessman Papa Rao pokes his nose into their family, Vicky tries to teach him a lesson. One day, owing to ideological differences with his brother, Vicky flees his home and lands in Kolkata. When and how do the siblings unite?
A quick glance at director Sriwass’ filmography will suggest you that he’s not a filmmaker who wishes to tread anywhere off the beaten track. He’s specialised in upgrading the tried-and-tested ‘commercial entertainer’ template from time to time and his films do enjoy a minimum-guarantee value at the box office. Nearly five years after Saakshyam, the director returns with a sibling drama Ramabanam.
The story is fairly straightforward - two brothers, who mean well, adopt contrasting approaches to life and part ways, only to reunite and stand up for their family during a crisis. While one of them, Raja Ram believes in the system and prefers to go by the rule book, the younger brother Vicky is aggressive, gives a handful to his opponent to get his work done.
Sriwass’ idea of giving a novel twist to the premise is to weave in a subplot around the significance of organic food, chemicals wreaking havoc on our health. Raja Ram only talks in binaries - ‘organic food is good..chemicals are bad’ The conflict is between a company that adulterates food products with harmful chemicals and an honest government officer and how Vicky comes to the latter’s rescue.
There are two major female characters - Bhuvaneshwari (Vicky’s sister-in-law) and Bhairavi (Vicky’s love interest). The former’s job is to shed tears, make food for the family, the latter appears whenever there’s a need for a song in an exotic location. Throw in a few comedians - Ali, Vennela Kishore, Saptagiri - a series of rhyming one-liners with a liberal dose of violence and heavy duty drama, Ramabanam’s sure to give any television soap a run for its money.
Even if it doesn’t offer anything novel in the first hour, Ramabanam remains fairly engaging. The action blocks are set up with taste, the aesthetics are arresting, a couple of songs, comedy scenes do their job and the narrative ticks along smoothly. What seems like a safe bet initially loses steam post intermission - the dialogues are painfully preachy (unintentionally hilarious), trivial scenes are blown out of proportion for drama and the laughs dry up.
The repetitive tussles between the brothers get tiresome after a point. It’s funny how Vicky tells his brother ‘kaalam tho manam marali’ but the film is content to remain an old wine in a new bottle. The dialogues suffer from the ‘Trivikram’ syndrome. There are one-liners like ‘vaadu tammudu la ledu..terminator la unnadu’ and a judge in a court is forced to come up with rhythmic one-liners.
Time and again, the lines date back to the vedas, sastras, emphasising on the ‘satvik’ approach to life. The film is blissfully stuck in a time warp. Someone with the screen presence of Khushbu and Jagapathi Babu are reduced to caricatures, parroting the same-old dialogues from family dramas since five-six decades. In a rare moment where Jagapathi Babu decides to go massy in the climax, it’s a delight to watch.
Gopichand looks sharp, underplays the role with assurance but his role is so one-dimensional and toothless that he can’t do much either. Dimple Hayathi dances like a dream in a couple of numbers even though the song placement and the costumes are quite odd. Some of Ali, Satya, Getup Srinu and Vennela Kishore’s gags are in poor taste while their comic timing comes to their rescue in a handful of sequences. Nasser’s experience is wasted in a half-baked role.
Tarun Arora’s presence doesn’t make any impact at all - the performance is quite mechanical and the one-note characterisation adds insult to injury. Sachin Khedekar, Kasi Viswanath, Raja Ravindra, Sameer are strictly okay. Mickey J Meyer tries his hand at a commercial entertainer for the first time and is only partially successful - the songs iPhone and Dharuveyy Raa strike a chord.
Vetri Palanisamy, with his visual detailing, colour play and the production designer Kiran Kumar Manne do their part well in giving a new dimension to many done-to-death sequences. Bhupathi Raja’s story may not be new but it has all the ingredients of a minimum-guarantee mass fare; it’s the treatment that does the damage. A bulk of the cast, crew aren’t in sync with the times.
Ramabanam is a jaded commercial entertainer that is tolerable initially but loses izz post the intermission. Gopichand does the needful but the writer and the director don’t do much to infuse life into a tried-and-tested template around two brothers. Talented actors like Jagapathi Babu, Khushbu, Nasser are criminally wasted in poorly written roles. A couple of songs, a few action segments make an impression.