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Rathnam Movie Review: Vishal-starrer is a quintessential Hari movie that is a cringe fest

Rathnam is weak in sculpting its antagonists. Whatever the hero Vishal does looks amateur and laugh-worthy

Rathnam Movie Review: Vishal-starrer is a quintessential Hari movie that is a cringe fest
Rathnam first look

Last Updated: 08.07 AM, May 23, 2024


Rathnam story

Rathnam (Vishal) is a henchman who joins gangster Paneerselvam (Samuthirakani) as a teenager after he surrenders for a crime and saves the latter from a jail sentence. Ever since, Rathnam has served as the loyal and trustworthy right-hand of Paneerselvam, a don with a heart of gold who does outlaw activities for kolgai (ideology) and justifies them for taking the side of righteousness. 

It is at this moment that Rathnam chances upon an aspiring doctor and nursing student, Mallika (Priya Bhavani Shankar), who catches his attention, but not in a typical romantic way. There is something more that Rathnam sees in Mallika for whom he braves a thousand men. When her life is in danger, he does everything he can to save her. But why are men hunting down Mallika and is there something larger that Rathnam will have to face to save her?


Rathnam review

Rathnam is a film that screams Hari all over. There is no shortage of rowdies who own SUVs and carry weapons on their sleeves, or in this case, inside their vehicles. Blood-soaked people are just like props on the set of the film. Rathnam has Hari’s usual fast-paced style, small-town narrative and the aruva culture in abundance with its action blocks. But does the film evoke the emotions we once felt watching Hari’s films, say Singham or Saamy, when its heroes, even as they broke the law, charmingly swept the audience off their feet? Sadly, no. 

There are shots of car bonnets suggesting the entry of rowdies, a monologue mouthed before a massacre takes place, and even echoing screams to suggest the magnitude of what’s happening. But all this in a film releasing in 2024 makes Rathnam a cringe-fest. You can't enjoy it like the yesteryear Hari films that we grew up watching.

In short, it is not wrong to say that Rathnam is a quintessential Hari film. But to what capacity and effect has Hari retained his commercial aesthetics to approach today’s times is debatable. When, at one point, a gangster educates a cop that they should work hand-in-hand with anti-social forces, one cannot help but wonder where and how the group’s main source of income is derived to support luxurious cars and man power.

Rathnam is a film that operates between the Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu borders, with Vellore and Thiruthani being the main backdrops. Naturally, you do have Telugu-speaking villains and multiple car chases that warrant ample fight sequences. A land dispute becomes the crux of conflict and lost family members become easter eggs to connect the dots. It becomes bizarre further as Hari begins to connect the dots on how his characters are connected. 

At one point, Hari even makes his character adopt a caste that comes from a flashback. No matter how much sentiment the circumstances try to bring in, the 'twist' can only get funnier, which is not what the makers intended. Rathnam demands a lot of finesse in its making and writing. For example, there are better ways to show a man groping a woman than zooming into his half-clenched fist and her chest.

Despite the several twists and interconnections in the film, they don’t land well enough to make a coherent and logical story. For instance, at one point, Mallika is ready to give up the disputed land for the sake of the well-being of many, like her wanting to pursue medicine. But her intention to do so comes towards the end and you are barely able to understand why she took the decision when it could have been said much earlier. 

Even as Hari weaves a story around his female character and gives some background, Rathnam barely helps us understand why Mallika, who is trying to be a doctor to save people’s lives, wants to marry a thug.

Rathnam verdict

Rathnam is a signature Hari movie. His fast-paced cuts, violence and bloodshed contribute to the visual factors of all his previous films. But do they really contribute to the effectiveness of the story? Unfortunately..., not. Rathnam is also weak when it comes to sculpting its antagonists and makes whatever the hero does look amateur and laugh-worthy.

Even as Vishal stands tall and brings some action blocks to life, the caricature made out of his and other characters makes Rathnam a childish film. It is obsolete and loaded with unintentional quips. I would say that is the failure of a full-packed action film that makes you laugh and has little intrigue.


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