Pavan Wadeyar's film stars Ishan and Ashika Ranganath in the lead roles with R. Sarathkumar, Madhoo, Rajesh Nataranga, and Achyuth Kumar as part of the extended cast.
Last Updated: 10.06 AM, Nov 25, 2022
Revanth Deshpande, or Raymo (Ishan), is a foolhardy, spoilt rockstar dealing with intense family conflicts: he believes his stepmother is an evil gold-digger and passionately hates his father for remarrying soon after his biological mother's death. When an international music gig commands him to scout a singing talent, he comes across Mohana, a dedicated classical singer who is worlds apart from Raymo. But, as it often happens, the two fall for one another in a manner that they complete each other and vow to stay together regardless of the hardships. As circumstances and society alike try to pull the lovers apart, Mohana and Raymo undergo a categorical change in their respective personalities - can they overcome the barriers and end up together?
In Raymo, Pavan Wadeyar seems hell-bent on celebrating his hero though his script tends in a different direction. The writer-director, known for films like Govindaya Namaha, Googly, and Rana Vikrama, tries his hand at spirited romance for the first time with Raymo and plunges in with a lot of intent. While his heart remains in the right place, his lacklustre script and execution as a director come as major shortcomings and ultimately render his film dull and profusely confusing. To put it in musical terms, Raymo is almost tone-deaf and too shrill for anyone's liking.
One of the main muddling factors is that Wadeyar is unsure whether he wants to tell a coming-of-age story or a love story of the epic kind. The title of the film, which refers to the male protagonist's stage name, suggests that his focus is laid on the 'hero' and as much as the majority of the first half does justice to this part of his vision, the rest of the film meanders a lot, never letting the viewer to fully understand what he is up to. Mohana, played by Ashika Ranganath, comes to the fore as Raymo's muse, someone who is meant to cleanse the boozehound in him and help him get in touch with his softer side. But, on a rather interesting and endearing note, the writer fills life in Mohana and helps her come into her own as a character and when we feel this is blossoming as a two-way story, he brings her arc to an abrupt halt. The narrative, much to our annoyance, is back to our annoyance, is back to focus on Raymo.
To his credit, Pavan Wadeyar imbues the romance angle of the story with many tender moments: be it the fact that it's Mohana, the more demure one, who gears up first to profess love or that Raymo is the one who sobs like a child after making the uncharacteristic cheesy proposal. Arjun Janya's score, which is the main highlight of Raymo, underlines these sequences elegantly and even elevates them to a new high. Unfortunately, these moments are sparsely located and even when they do occur at a later time, the screenplay in the meantime has become a messy affair.
The music of Raymo is another valid enunciation of Wadeyar's half-baked approach. For a film that's meant to be about musicians, there is very little effort gone into prepping the actors to come off as convincing artists on screen. In the case of Mohana, we are told right off the bat that she is "classically trained" but one wonders in confusion why she boasts perfect synergy with Raymo during their performances. He has a double-neck guitar like Eddie Van Halen and carries similar rage within him but by no means can we believe that he is a musician worth his salt (he also carries a band/entourage that looks as misplaced as Ishan's on-screen energy).
While Raymo isn't a film about music, per se, one still wishes to see seasoned filmmakers strive towards conceiving backdrops that are more authentic and believable. Instead, Pavan Wadeyar tries to pass off his actors as musicians by never letting the camera linger on their faces during the on-screen live acts and cuts away to wide, inessential crowd shots.
As far as the performances are concerned, Ashika Ranganath is quite easily the better performer of the two and, in fact, steals the show completely. Though the writing doesn't allow her character to be a well-rounded one, Ashika as Mohana is quite appealing on screen. Ishan, on the other hand, boasts the right physique for Raymo but has very little ease and elegance to play the part at Pavan Wadeyar's chosen pitch and tone. Madhoo Shah (of 'Roja' fame), Tamil actor Sarath Babu, Rajesh Nataranga, and Achyuth Kumar make up the rest of the principal cast.
Raymo definitely has a few moments to savour but the gross silliness and lack of logic in the story, particularly in the second half, come as major disservices. Pavan Wadeyar, despite his sincerity in those select few sequences, fails to deliver a compelling film that's worth our time and attention. If you are willing to test out what Kannada cinema has to offer this weekend, give Raymo a chance but this review recommends that you proceed with caution.