The Pornography of Violence (Abzee’s Review of RAKHT CHARITRA – 1)

Dir- Ram Gopal Varma
Cast- Vivek Oberoi, Abhimanyu Singh, Shatrughan Sinha, Radhika Apte, Zarina Wahab, Ashwini Kalsekar, Kota Srinivasa Rao and others
Rating- **

‘Rakht astra, rakht shastra, rakht shatru, rakht charitra’ blare the lyrics in the background as multiple men and women get killed in Ram Gopal Varma’s first installment of Rakht Charitra. The lines, aided by typically loud and harsh background score that you’ve come to expect from RGV’s films, do more than just underline the blood-curdling bloody gore being played out on the screen. It points to a sad but natural culmination of a filmmaker who once pioneered the shift from sappy romances and profligate wedding videos in the name of cinema to raw stories told detachedly but with great technical aplomb. Rakht Charitra is RGV’s most violent film to date yes… but it is more problematically a window into his mind. And going by what’s on display, he needs to be checked into an asylum without more ado!

Rakht Charitra is purportedly based on the life of Paritala Ravi, the son of a Naxalite in the Anantpur district of Andhra Pradesh who became a dreaded gangster after the murder of his father by local political factionists and later entered politics to end up as a Cabinet minister. But the film could’ve been about anybody else or nobody at all. Because RGV’s main objective seems to be to put on display a show about ‘different torturous ways to kill a person’. So, right from the beginning, you have both black and white characters getting killed in one unique fashion after another. You cringe just as much when Ravi’s father is killed by having his head smashed with a huge rock as when you see Ravi avenging his father’s death by chopping the hands of the person responsible. With all the killing going around, you wonder how the little village doesn’t run out of people to kill. And since everybody seems to be waiting for an excuse to kill, and kill inventively, one supposes the kids in Anantpur get treated to ice-creams for coming up with the most creative kill idea.

But it’s not just the violence. It’s also the misogyny. RGV has always been guilty of objectifying his leading ladies. But here, the ladies literally get slapped, beaten, randomly picked up and raped, and abused! And when they’re not being subjected to that, they’re happy condoning the violent actions of the men in their lives. There isn’t much skin on display, but then blood is deeper than skin… and in the borderline pornographic world that RGV creates here, blood is both omnipotent and explicit.

Only towards the end of the second half does the film actually manage to sober up a little, and we begin to get some character detail. Much of that is to do with the entrance of Shatrughan Sinha as a superstar-turned-politician who imparts to Ravi the ways of righting wrongs in a flawed system. Sinha turns in an interesting performance, getting the Andhra accent correct. The only other performance worth mentioning is that of Abhimanyu Singh. Singh is creepily scary as the bare-chested and constantly horny lecher and monster. Watching him lick the barrel of a gun makes you feel violated!

Unfortunately, the performances (Oberoi is effectively restrained), the cinematography (the camera thankfully not overacting as much as it did in RGV’s Rann) and other little plusses don’t matter; given that they all take a backseat to RGV having sex with violence. And yet, the attached trailer to the sequel at the end (with Tamil actor Surya making his Hindi debut as Ravi’s nemesis) does manage to tickle you to give it a dekko. Well… porn in all forms is addictive!

62 Responses to “The Pornography of Violence (Abzee’s Review of RAKHT CHARITRA – 1)”

  1. Re: “There isn’t much skin on display, but then blood is deeper than skin… and in the borderline pornographic world that RGV creates here, blood is both omnipotent and explicit.”


    “Unfortunately, the performances (Oberoi is effectively restrained), the cinematography (the camera thankfully not overacting as much as it did in RGV’s Rann) and other little plusses don’t matter; given that they all take a backseat to RGV having sex with violence.”

    Great lines, abzee. I’m still interested enough to want to check this film out, although I am a bit disappointed as I was (despite earlier RGV-disappointments) expecting a reasonably good film here…


  2. Re: “And yet, the attached trailer to the sequel at the end (with Tamil actor Surya making his Hindi debut as Ravi’s nemesis) …”

    I had thought Surya was in this one too! Crap, I’ll have to wait for the sequel for Surya’s Hindi debut…


    • q bhai..

      1. vivek character rises in this one.
      2. surya has a feud with vivek character, but that cant happen unless they establish vivek character in this one.

      thus surya character would suffer from vivek habds/similiar and then go for him with vengence


  3. They haven’t released this in Chennai, planning to release RC-2. How could people watch second version without seeing the first one?


  4. A great piece as always Abzee and while I haven’t seen the film yet (and I’m still interested in it) I do certainly share your general critique here. Relevant older comments:


  5. An earlier comment I’d made:

    “The latest clip here with the statue of the Mahatma looking over the scene of violence is pretty cheap stuff. AAA used this staging with the statue decades earlier of course with far less fetishistic violence and far more resonance. Even Raavan had the Mahatma frame over the police station where Beera’s sister sits, accosted by policeman, but Ratnam merely has the image work with the rest of the set and camerawork and doesn’t call attention to the irony of its presence as pornographically as RGV does here.”

    I’ll still give this a shot, and it’s important to say RGV in the promotional campaign never lied about this not being pornographic in its violence, and even beyond its violence the film seemed pretty pleased with wallowing in its own pungency. RGV has been pornographic in his instincts in this way for some time now…


  6. Just got back from seeing this. I actually think it might be RGV’s most engaging, completely immersive film since Company. Found it riveting, and I’m very excited to see the second part which with Surya should be even more compelling. That said, this is a dark, dark film that won’t have many takers, will offend, there are RGVisms aplenty, (the true offender in this sense is the score) and it is every bit the shock-and-awe bloodbath that the promos promised.

    I’ll try to write on it though I’m hesitant to do so until I see the second part…


    • mksrooney Says:

      OMG now u have raised expectations dude. thnks..


    • wow, I guess I should check it out in the theater!


      • I would suggest this but I say so with some hesitation. Couple reasons for this (the aforementioned RGVisms of course) but mainly because your instinct was absolutely spot on. This really, really should have released in a roadshow version where we at least had the chance to sit through both parts in one go.

        The violence becomes mind-numbing and this to my mind is probably the only reason RGV has done this as a two-parter….but the full scope and impact of this work can only be reasonably felt after seeing both parts.

        Incidentally I have a feeling that the Tamil version will be very interesting and possibly superior in a sense because as I understand it here RGV fuses both parts into one movie.


        • yes the Tamil one might be much more plot driven.. I would wait to watch both together but it’s hard to imagine the first one lasting till the second comes out. One could possibly do this only in India.


  7. Again, I’ll write on this at some point but what really works for this film is the way in which it compresses the events it deals in with admirable economy. The movie just hurdles along at such a pace that even RGV’s usual filmic quirks don’t get in the way as much as they normally do. It’s almost as if RGV needed this much plot, (as opposed to attitude replacing plot) in order for his aesthetic to not feel as overbearing.

    The music continues to be the major problem with his films though. The man doesn’t know how to lay track.


  8. I wanna see this one too, like you said, I think unlike many RGV films of late, this one may have an engaging plot.

    “AMC Village 7. A grand total of three people including myself in the room!”

    Well, he said the movie is not for those whole liked K3G. Guess he got his audience.


  9. Now, I wanna this damn movie.
    Am very, very intrigued after reading GFs’ views.


  10. Leaving in few minutes, ultra excited!


  11. Just came back and it pretty much rocked. Agree for the most part with GF.

    The voice over was irritating at first but got used to it.

    The adrenaline rush of the 2nd trailer at the end of the movie is palpable and am sure the 2nd one is going to be looked forward even more(esp Telugu and THE Tamil Version),Suriya looks Raw and menacing!

    The delightful surprise i got was around 30-35 people who came to see the movie(mostly college going types), highly interactive and responsive throughout esp during Sivaji moments.

    Nov 19th 2010, RC-2.

    Topic is over!


    • omg.. now i have to see this one.. when was last time doga ji recco a movie with such a comment.. 🙂 thnks doga i would definetly check it out


  12. I do think RGV could have been bit less explicit with the violence part but as GF said the film was always going to showcase violence in the extreme/raw form.

    The film certainly deserves to be seen at a theater. Notwithstanding few shortcomings, it is still better than most of RGV’s works of late. Forget about everything, Abhimanyu Singh’s cannibalistic act is worth a dekho.


  13. Good to know it’s not just me! This certainly seems to have gotten the best reception of RGV’s recent works…but the second part really needs to be brought into the discussion for a sense of completeness.


  14. There are plenty of performances here that truly make an impression (though I find Shatru seriously overrated). I especially loved Sushant Singh’s brief moment. It’s his monologue that kicks off the film from its prologue through the title sequence.


  15. Yes i definitely “felt” the opening sequence, heck there were few whistles when RC title came.


  16. >But it’s not just the violence. It’s also the misogyny.


    For me the art of film making is the most superior when things like violence and s*x are executed in such a way that you get the impact of it rather than being explicit and showing it as it is …….which for me is the easy way out.
    Does this have to do with *maleness* or some such thing?
    I say this because so often YRF and KJo are dismissed as…for aunties, fluff etc etc.

    It’s hard for me to believe people actually sitting and watching the details and innovative styles of how people are/can be killed, and I agree with abzee that;

    >he needs to be checked into an asylum without more ado!

    In fact I agree with all the POVs, and understand also his POV calling some films;

    >sappy romances and profligate wedding videos in the name of cinema

    I’m happy at least one man here has no taste for such things increasing my respect for him.

    >Well… porn in all forms is addictive!
    Apt comment (calling it a porn).


  17. It actually helped to google up on Paritala Ravi before watching this movie. Having read the real life incidents, I felt that RGV cudve spent some more time trying to flesh out the characters, so that the audiences cud connect more with the violence. Otherwise, the violence just comes off as mindless. If he had paid more attention to the true roots of this 3 decade feud, which are embedded in RayalSeema faction politics, it probably wouldve made the movie more palatable to the non-Andhra audiences. For the Andhra folks, there is already this heated war of words going on between Reddy and Kama factions over this. For them, it was the closest anyone couldve come to depicting the controversial life of Paritala Ravanna.


    • RGV knows well that RC should make money in Andhra and TN. Controversy of NTR character has helped to get good collections in Andhra.
      Otherwise, RGV lost the BO appeal to audience. I am not sure how Department fares.


      • I think the only time he gets a box office initial in Hindi now (without exception) is when he takes Bachchan Sr and Jr together. Now it could also be a Sarkar only deal but in any case SR for the genre and so forth had a good opening that seemed perhaps less than it might have been at the time though when one compares other serious subjects with it the initial seems strong. Having said that I suspect it could still have easily opened to 30 crores or so. But it was just too grim (even moreso than the first one), even moreso than the first one, and I continue to believe Abhishek’s death messed up the logic of the franchise and the film paid a price for it (even with people who otherwise liked the film). Having said that there is an odd sense in which the two Sarkar films have followed the non-diegetic narrative quite closely. So in ’05 there was a succession dynamic in the film, in ’08 there was a succession that got ‘deferred’, much as it was off screen. In other words (and as I’ve argued before) Abhishek oddly (and certainly uniquely) can either be in the running for the top star or he is almost ‘nothing’. So far the former dynamic though much damaged and weakened is still around because he still has the projects. But Raavan again completes the Guru circle. If the latter announced a giant step the latter cemented all the missteps since. But the signature remains singular and hence the possibilities remain singular too even if with each significant failure the safety net shrinks a bit more. But to get back to RGV it will be interesting to see what he does here because he does seem to be talking about a stylish action film. In one sense it is most beside the point to suggest with an RGV film that he could have grossed more had he done this bit of tinkering with his film or that. Because ‘disappointment’ is embedded in the way he makes films. In his own way he tries rather hard to avoid the easiest pleasures. SR is testament to this. So given this set of choices it’s not a question of whether Department will be a worthwhile film or not but whether it will satisfy the audience either way! RGV though does keep returning to the Bachchans, specifically the father-son dynamic. It seems clear to me that there is something he likes exploring here though paradoxically none of his films truly allow each star the space for that exploration to take place. It is as if RGV sets it up perfectly and then avoids the obvious. But the Bachchans one way or the other are the only stars who really make sense in his cinema. When he takes non-stars that makes perfect sense but so does the Bachchan choice. Other Bombay stars would one and all be misfits in his quintessential genres. He obviously wouldn’t have such a problem in the South. Hence Surya.

        Incidentally on RGV losing his appeal that aspect too is a bit overrated. Satya was a megahit in Bombay, did well in the South, nothing elsewhere. Rangeela was a different sort of film for RGV, he usually doesn’t get into this genre. Company did well enough but actually didn’t gross more than Yuva. It didn’t even do as well as Satya in Bombay though it was better overall, a more even performance but hardly great anywhere. Just that the media sold it as a hit without qualification once it held up in week 1. And the opening incidentally wasn’t fantastic either. His best ever opening was with Sarkar where he broke the Bombay record set a few weeks earlier by BnB (and which was broken several weeks later by MP). SR was nowhere close to the Bombay record, still opened and gross more than any other RGV film. If you combined Rann and Nishabd you wouldn’t be anywhere close to the SRK initial let alone final gross! Naach did zilch releasing after Yuva and Dhoom. I won’t even get into some of the other stuff even if a few of the horror films did well enough for their low budgets (but it hardly takes a genius to get something out of this genre). But where you do have a point is that if RGV had retained his cache he would be in a rather strong position currently. It’s his own fault unfortunately. And even Department will have to convince the audience because having both Bachchans seems like a somewhat old trick by this point. He’ll have to go beyond his usual instincts. He really needs to get back to basics in some sense. Do a Shiva or a Satya, a more narrative oriented film. He needs a bit of a reset button. Rakta Charitra based on what I’ve read seems to be a significant work so one doesn’t doubt he still has the toolkit but whether he has the restraint anymore is perhaps questionable. In fairness I should say that despite the fatal flaw (as I see it) I preferred SR to Sarkar. I also liked Nishabd reasonably, have a weakness for Naach, found Rann bland but watchable nonetheless, and I have a feeling I’ll enjoy Rakta Charitra. So perhaps he’s just a filmmaker from whom we should not expect box office glory at all. He will never make films for a large audience but he also might not make anything to completely satisfy a niche. If he truly is making a turn with Department as he seems to be suggesting then it should be interesting. Or else we’ll see a film with authentic moments but on a path we’ve traveled many times before.


          • I think he’s changed his tune on the Raavan ‘response’ a bit. In a number of the interviews he seemed quite sanguine about it. Also he doesn’t seem to be in anymore of a ‘recluse’ mode than he otherwise is. He disappears for a long period at times anyway and he’s been around doing the usual social/endorsement bit otherwise. But what makes me cringe here is the Johar & Dostana bit.


        • I’m increasingly tempted to post my piece on the first film, but I shall wait…

          While I don’t think RC represents quite the “reset” you’re suggesting what it does have is more narrative, most substance to its text than any Varma film I can think of. Even if this film fails in certain ways I’d take it over pretty much anything he’s done the past ten years.

          But I digress…should wait to see the second part…


  18. This article from around 2004:
    Andhra chief minister Chandrababu Naidu loves to talk the language of good governance and peace. But in his own backyard, the four southern districts comprising Rayalseema, Naidu is a prisoner of a unique phenomenon called ‘factions’. Here, ‘faction’ doesn’t denote a dissenting group within a party, but refers to a trait among certain powerful landed castes, mostly Reddys, to play the role of arbiter in all local matters. During polls, these ‘factions’ can make or mar the chances of a party. Some of Naidu’s ministers, and a bulk of the TDP’s political machinery in Rayalseema—which contributes 54 MLAs to the 294-member assembly—are ‘factionists’ with criminal records. The Congress scores equally well. Its legislature party leader and potential CM Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, whose father Y.S. Rajareddy was killed in a ‘faction’ feud, is the unrivalled ‘factionist’ of Cuddapah.
    ‘Factionists’ have been in existence since the days of the Vijayanagara kingdom (16 and 17c), which had a decentralised army and encouraged the local landed elites to maintain private armies and manage revenue collection. Known as ‘palegallu’ in Telugu, the British pronounced them ‘poligars’ and tried to rein them in. But in vain. In 2004, Naidu, the techno-savvy CEO with Vision 2020, actively encourages and draws sustenance from this feudal mafia, perhaps more than Krishnadevaraya in 1520.

    The turf lords run a parallel administration in the drought-prone, backward districts of Kurnool, Anantapur, Cuddapah and Chittoor—the ‘faction zones’.

    And now is the time that the activities of these ‘factions’ are peaking. M. Bhooma Nagi Reddy, TDP MP from Nandyal, poses at his palatial Allagadda bungalow with his Mitsubishi Lancer that doesn’t bear a registration number. Both he and his wife Shoba Nagi Reddy, a TDP MLA who heads the AP State Road Transport Corporation, are expecting a renomination. With more than 15 registered cases—a couple of them pending trial in a Nandyal court—against him, fief baron Nagi Reddy is eminently qualified in Naidu’s reckoning. Bhooma’s traditional rivals, Gangula Prabhakar Reddy and Gangula Pratapa Reddy, are currently with the BJP, but might switch over to their parent Congress if assured of tickets. The factions—a typical instance of a pre-modern, pre-national social order adapting to the requirements of a modern democracy—don’t mind doing business with any and every party. This feudal vestige is a variation on the familiar lobby politics theme and the resemblance with the caste armies and gangs of Bihar and UP is too close to be missed. “No party in Rayalseema can do politics sans the factionists. Earlier, the Congress was full of them; today the TDP boasts of several. Even the CPI and CPI(M) are not faction-free. If the BJP emerges stronger this time, it too will have its share of factionists,” says Kurnool’s human rights activist A. Japanya.

    Another faction leader whom Naidu has nursed is Paritala Ravi of Anantapur. Says civil rights activist K. Balagopal: “Without Ravi, Naidu can’t do politics in Anantapur.” Ravi, an MLA, is among the several factionists who terrorised Larsen & Toubro with extortion when they set up a cement factory in Tadipatri. He’s an accused in three murder cases, including the deaths of Congress factionists Obul Reddy and S.V. Ramana Reddy. Ravi survived a murder attempt in Hyderabad in ’97: a car-bomb blast at a film muhurat that killed 24 people. Naidu, though, has stood by him.

    For the lords, the interests of their factions are paramount, not the political parties they represent. K.E. Krishnamurthy, MP from Kurnool, was in and out of the Congress till he joined the TDP and was victorious against K. Vijayabhaskar Reddy. After the latter’s recent death, the KE group reigns supreme though Vijayabhaskar Reddy’s son, Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy, offers some resistance. Naidu respects the strength of the KE faction and has appointed K.E. Prabhakar, Krishnamurthy’s brother, as the minister for irrigation in his cabinet.

    Says Balagopal: “Till the ’70s, factionists were limited to villages and talukas. A few post-Emergency generation factionists have come a long way. But there are a few, like the Kotla and the KE factions, who don’t dirty their hands in day-to-day village-level faction fights. They derive their clout by encouraging and protecting their own factionists.” With the onset of Panchayati Raj, these Andhra caste lobbies rediscovered the virtues of violence to further their economic and political interests. Observes Balagopal: “The focus was on controlling civil contracts and the illicit liquor trade. Initially, local MLAs depended on factionists’ support. But soon, the factionists themselves became MLAs. Today, more than half the MLAs and MPs from Rayalseema are factionists.”

    Village-level turf lords continue to thrive, P. Venkatappa Naidu of TDP being a classic example. The strongman of Kappatrala, 55 km from Kurnool, is loyal to the KE faction. In March 2001, Venkatappa was attacked by members of the rival Kotla faction, but survived. His supporters retaliated and murdered six of the assailants. The multiple murders sparked a debate in the assembly and a house committee was constituted to study faction killings. G.S.S. Shivaji, a TDP MLA who headed the 18-member committee, recently submitted the report—but this was not discussed. Says E. Venkatramana, who runs a provision store in the village: “Kappatrala is like a volcano. The elections could provide the trigger.”

    Anyone who resists the factions faces death, like Birusanti Obanna, a Dalit leader in the notorious Koilakuntla area of Kurnool district. Obanna was instrumental in the reopening of a stones factory belonging to the Dalits closed down by the factionists in the late ’90s; he had enabled a Dalit, Mala Chenchanna, to reclaim one acre of land occupied by local factionist Manchala Tulasi Reddy; and, most recently, he managed to wrest for a widow five acres of land she had been cheated of by the factionists. Obanna’s recourse to the democratic route reportedly upset TDP’s Tulasi Reddy and led to the former’s murder on January 20 with the alleged connivance of Karra Subba Reddy, former TDP MLA from Koilakuntla. Says K. Satyanarayana, state convenor of Kula Nirmoolana Porata Samiti of which Obanna was a member: “In the faction zone, there’s no space for democracy. Naidu harps on Naxal violence, but factionist violence goes unnoticed.”

    Telugu cinema has cashed in on the phenomenon. Rayalseema Reddys, and sometimes Naidus, mouth lines like “Kanti chooputo champesta (I’ll murder you with my gaze)” on the screen. The success of Anthapuram in ’98 spawned a spate of movies. NTR’s son N. Balakrishna starred in three hits: Samarasimha Reddy, Narasimha Naidu, Chenna Kesava Reddy. Junior NTR starred in Aadhi, while politician-turned-actor N. Harikrishna, another NTR son, played the tough cop controlling faction violence in Seetayya. Mohan Babu’s Rayalseema Ramanna Chowdhary, Chiranjeevi’s Indra, Rajasekhara’s Bharatasimha Reddy and a love story like Prema Sandadi are other notable faction films.

    Till the mid-’90s, factionists moved around in convoys, flaunting guns, traditional weapons and country-made bombs. The gun licences were withdrawn but factionists continue to access arms and explosives. A. Sivanarayana, IG, Rayalseema, points out that faction murders that averaged a hundred per year between ’94 and ’98, came down to 37 in ’99, and nine in ’03. However, the number of firearms and explosives seized in the faction zone has shown a dangerous increase. From 2,640 units raided in ’93, 5,623 in ’95, it shot up to 2,64,120 units in ’02 and 1,90,322 in ’03. While the catch in country-made firearms and explosives shows a downward trend, the use of grenades, detonators, gelatin sticks and bomb-making material has increased over the past 10 years. And the elections might just provide an opportunity to use them.



    Movie to do 200+ K off pretty limited screening(~20) in US, good.


  20. And this OTT Rayalseema rendition in puuure Gulte tradition:


  21. I have no intention of seeing Rakta Charitra, so I have been reading various reviews and commentary. These all seem to focus on the violence in the film in one of two ways. The positive reviews laud for the film for its “gritty” portrayals, while the negative ones lament the focus on the violence. In response, the commentators say, “the reality was far worse.” Now here GF hasn’t given any details to support his statement that this is a great work from RGV. Even others who are praising the film have not given any argument that explains to me what they find so great about it. So my question to GF, Doga, and anyone else who has seen the film is, is there any delving into the issue of why and how such lawlessness occurs in India, and is able to fit into a parliamentary structure? In other words, how, in an ostensible democracy, can such proven sadists and criminals find a place for themselves in the corridors of political power? How do they manage to get elected in the first place? Is it all ballot rigging? Or do the voters see something in them beyond their criminal exploits? Or are the citizens jaded that “everyone” is like this, that they are powerless to change the system, and so they seek the “protection” of the warring criminals? If this were just a film about two crime mafias, I think there would be nothing noteworthy about the events portrayed, however violent they might be, because that would be par for the course in such a milieu. What brings it out of that genre is the political aspect. Does the film offer any commentary on the intertwining of politics and goondaism in AP? Or does it merely state that intertwining as a fact of history and not examine it any further?


    • as GF said earlier he’s written a piece on it but will in all probability ‘release’ it with another one or perhaps a longer one when he watches the second film.


    • “Does the film offer any commentary on the intertwining of politics and goondaism in AP? Or does it merely state that intertwining as a fact of history and not examine it any further?”

      given RGV’s history I suspect it’s the latter! He’s never been into ‘analysis’. And I don’t believe that’s a demerit in itself.

      On the violence RGV had an amusing comment in a recent interview where he said that violence is always around us and if there wasn’t violence what would Gandhi’s ‘non-violence’ be directed against?!

      In a related sense I have never subscribed to the idea that there is too much violence in films and so on (RGV I have critiqued on ‘pornographic’ grounds as Abzee also has it here). Because whatever violence is depicted in films is not even close to matching the real life violence (at a literal level) that is constantly around us even if we’re less interested in ‘noticing’ it.

      As Derrida often said there is always an economy of violence and one just (hopefully) chooses the path of ‘lesser’ violence. But ‘non-violence’ is strictly speaking an impossibility.


    • Satyam’s already spoken here (I will most likely just do one long piece once I see the second part) but I’ll add that I’m not certain if this is a great work. I find it difficult to judge it without seeing the second part. But this is easily a work that has stuck with me more than any Varma film since Company…


    • Without getting into the details of how the political machinery works, I think the film examines how vengeance, legacy and violence factor into the politics of a place. I think anyone who works with Varma here will be in for an interesting experience, but this isn’t a film that edifies a viewer to any great deal about how these people are elected in a democracy. It touches on these things in passing, but its interests are broader, and I think it works to the film’s advantage…


  22. If we’ve more voilence around us, what is he trying to show through the movie? Whatever happened in Andhra, people should forget that and comparing those incidents with Gandhi’s non violence is an escapism. I’ve been seeing RGV’s interviews, meaningless most of the times. VO is visting Ananthpur like a political leader.


  23. SM: “So my question to GF, Doga, and anyone else who has seen the film is, is there any delving into the issue of why and how such lawlessness occurs in India, and is able to fit into a parliamentary structure? In other words, how, in an ostensible democracy, can such proven sadists and criminals find a place for themselves in the corridors of political power? How do they manage to get elected in the first place?”

    Perhaps the following may enlighten you on the history of violence in Rayalseema:

    There are many such Rayalseema’s in India today, those in the badlands of Bihar/UP, some in the North east, Bengal; entire regions which never really saw the light of democracy after independence, and where the fuedal systems merely co-opted democracy to further their own interests. Even the Naxals are creating a mammoth such Rayalseema under our very noses.

    The movie does not shed any light on the cause of the environment, nor does it offer any solutions. It merely states facts that took place. Thats why, as I stated earlier, I felt that only the Andhra folks really connected with the movie. I for one had never heard of Rayalseema or Paritala Ravi. Google maibaap helped in gaining all this perspective.


  24. Saw it tonight, and really liked it. RGV has finally got his hands on a meaty script, Rakht Charitra leaves a lasting impression, and really makes you look forward to the second part which I think should be even better because it features an even more interesting rivalry.

    Wish RGV had shown restraint with the background score, violence, and toned down the RGVisms (crazy camera angles, overall loud treatment etc.). This could have been his best work, but then again props to him for even touching such an absolutely grim subject.

    BTW Vivek rocked, definitely his best since Company.


  25. At this point it sucks not to post what I’ve written so far….want to get the discussion started and yet there’s an irresponsibility in doing it without that crucial second half….

    Suffice it to say I agree with Henry in:

    “Rakht Charitra leaves a lasting impression, and really makes you look forward to the second part which I think should be even better because it features an even more interesting rivalry.”


  26. masterpraz Says:

    Brilliant Abzee…..really looking forward to seeing RC! I hate this notion of RGV always having to make a comeback!

    Yes AAG was a bad film, but he also had NISHABD (brilliant), SARKAR RAJ (fantastic) and RANN (pretty good) since then. Granted there’s also been a AGYAAT, however a maverick like RGV is always going to these UPs and DOWNs.

    As for RC, this was always going to be a niche film much like most of Varmas other entries into this genre (SARKAR RAJ included)


    • quite frankly and even where I might concede the author has a point this whole piece has a hopelessly pretentious ring to it. Consider this rather ‘representative’ statement:

      “It is because his films consistently exist in a state of representation rather than reality. ”

      What does this mean?! Has there ever been a film that has not ‘represented’?!

      The references multiply from Kurtz to the ‘two Koreas’ to Hitler/Nietzsche! As to the general point of the Varma’s aesthetic it can certainly be critiqued and some of us have done it here but what is defined as excessive is surely the ‘point’ of RGV’s style (or his ‘later’ style at any rate)? There are so many filmmakers around the globe who engage in a very visceral kind of cinema but one that is also married to operatic style and so on. Or seems to be cinema ‘on drugs’ as the author would have it. Again one can have a theoretical objection to all examples of such cinema but I don’t believe the possibility can simply be foreclosed by presenting it merely as ‘excess’.

      And again I haven’t seen this film so far. I have certainly had many criticisms of RGV over the years. The ‘Sarkar’ mode as I see it is deeply problematic though I also don’t deny it’s strengths. But this critique seems rather unfair to me. Definitely misguided.


    • This is a pretty bloated, sprawling review that makes a few good points, but seems to try its best to avoid talking about the movie.

      What’s especially unfortunate is how dismissive it is of the Gandhi and Mahabharata quotes – how deeply misguided the reading here is…much of what I found interesting about this film is tied into why these quotes are most appropriate…

      Again much of what I say about this hinges on the second part but this might be in some ways RGV’s smartest film.


  27. Incidentally the BGM here is mostly terrible, (except maybe Abhimanyu Singh’s cue) but I found RGV’s use of this song excellent:


  28. Like everyone else here, i really loved the film (the first half was incredible). I agree, vivek was great in this, certainly his best since company. and sinha was neat here also. Im excited for the second part, especially for sudeep and surya. Hopefully they can release this thing in a single dvd set, like the criterion che

    “AMC Village 7. A grand total of three people including myself in the room!”

    Thats too bad, ive seen this twice already here in toronto (sat and sun afternoon shows, around 20-30 people each time), and if its still playing in cinemas next weekend id like to catch it a third time


  29. love the title- pornography of Violence.

    I think Violence puts off the family audience, I did not watch Ghazni in theatres and then watched it on a crappy DVD .

    But recently watched Ghazni again ( this time on an original DVD) , and what I liked the most was the BGM. my speakers were just going nuts.


    • Any kind of violence puts off family audiences except the kind they indulge in every day!


      • agree- example of violence – I usually throw my 3 year old’s scribblings we get from her day care each day in the garbage , one day she saw me doing that and yells- “You Hurt my feelings ” LOL


        • That is funny. I just try to find a moment when my kid is not looking. And sometimes she finds it in dustbin and I have to find some good excuse 🙂


      • >Any kind of violence puts off family audiences except the kind they indulge in every day!



        • Bourgeois life encodes whole levels of violence that we then celebrate as ‘culture’ or ‘values’. Many who are at the receiving end of such a system might well prefer getting punched or kicked around by RGV’s goons than face that sort of institutional violence.


  30. You need to get some facts correct. Paritala Ravi’s father Sreeramulaiah was not a naxalite. It appears you have framed your thoughts just by looking at the movie and RGV in general. If you had done some research on the conditions prevalent in Rayalaseema in the 70s,80s and early 90s you would probably realise that RGV showed very little of what actually happened. I’m neither in favour nor against RGV but he has dared to show what actually did happen.


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