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"Ramachandra"

THE CAT and mouse game between criminals and upright policemen generally makes for an interesting story, though there have been one too many. And if the policeman-hero is an angry young (or not so young) man, his encounters turn even more absorbing. But this happens only when the hero is an admirable mix of brain and brawn — sadly "Ramachandra" seems to be lacking in the former most of the time.

Writer-director Raj Kapoor sees to it that Ramachandra's reckless, impulsive ventures only lead to mindless melee and every time you expect some intelligent counters from him, he lets you down very badly. Ramachandra (Satyaraj) is a straightforward police officer and like all such men, has a happy family that is wiped out by society's bad elements. As if that were not enough, he is rewarded with capital punishment for his integrity and honesty. But why does he have to force a fellow into marriage with his muscle power? The villains look cleverer in this sequence. And why does he have to arrest the villains on the basis of their newspaper interviews and thus make them collude against him? He could be mad with anger but you expect some method in his madness. His arguments in court don't hold water either.

As is the case with films of this genre, noise and loudness have been understood as histrionics — the decibel level of the hero's utterances hurt the ear — understandable (angry heroes have to shout). But why does the constable (Pandiyarajan) even as he is helping Ramachandra escape, have to be so loud? Of course, Pandiyarajan shifting to character roles with "Ramachandra" is a wise move and he effectively provides the much-needed comic relief.

Strangely it is not just the thugs who kill, police constables too pitch in with their quota now and then! Thus it is a canvas of blood and gore throughout, with tiring `ghana' numbers that have jaded girls romping around, interspersed for relief (!) Three such songs on the same lines test your patience. Incidentally, singing off key seems to be the trend (the "Paarappa" song these days). So what if it is aurally disconcerting?

Compare "Ramachandra" with the imposing characters that Satyaraj played in films such as "Walter Vetrivel" and "Kadamai Kanniyam Kattupaadu" — and the difference would only be too obvious.

Initially `Delhi' Ganesh comes as a breath of fresh air. Sriman has a significant role but the character has not been clearly etched. Vendetta and action "Ramachandra" has. And that's about all.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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