‘Ramana Avatara’ movie review: Rishi is wasted in a half-baked comedy drama

Rishi and Pranitha Subhash star in ‘Ramana Avatara’
| Photo Credit: Jhankar Music/YouTube

The film Ramana Avatara endeavors to recapture the charm Rishi showcased in his acclaimed 2017 film, Operation Alamelamma. Despite these efforts, director Vikas Pampapathi’s latest work stands as a testament to the struggles of Kannada cinema in mastering dark comedy, marked by Rishi’s quirky performance being overshadowed by lackluster script work.

Rishi plays the role of Rama, an unambitious youth whose life takes a dramatic turn when he decides to enter politics for the betterment of his hometown. However, his path takes an unexpected detour when his confidante (Anirudh Acharya) vanishes with the community’s collective funds, prompting Rama to seek sanctuary (his own version of vanavasa) in Mangaluru.

While settling in the coastal city, he falls for Sita (Pranitha Subhash), only to have her kidnapped by the notorious mobster Alexander (Arun Sagar) and whisked away to Bengaluru. The film’s opening half manages to entertain intermittently with a handful of effective jokes and intriguing twists and turns.

Ramana Avatara (Kannada)

Director: Vikas Pampapathi

Cast: Rishi, Pranitha Subhash, Arun Sagar, Anirudh Acharya

Runtime: 136 minutes

Storyline: A young man named Rama aims for political success, but finds himself in trouble following a betrayal. His situation worsens when his lover is taken by a criminal mastermind.

However, Ramana Avatara loses its momentum in the latter half, taking a nosedive with little chance for recovery. The narrative crafted by Vikas Pampapathi struggles akin to an overzealous marathon runner who loses strength before the finish line.

Although Rishi’s screen presence and comedic timing offer some solace, it’s not enough to compensate for the script’s lack of engaging dialogue and comical scenarios. The film could have benefitted from stronger character development beyond its protagonist.

The depiction of Rama’s infatuation with Sita leaves the audience questioning its depth, as their love story is swiftly summarized through a musical sequence. The director seems to bet on stylized slow-motion scenes to convey their romance, rather than building on substantial interaction between the two.

READ ALSO: Pranitha Subhash discusses her return

Sadly, Pranitha Subhash’s character remains devoid of any captivating traits, while Arun Sagar’s portrayal of the villain, designed to parody Ravana, is overbearing and laced with passe dialogues.

Extended scenes unnecessarily drag out what could have been cleverly presented concepts. A case in point is the scene post-intermission, where community members campaign against a ban on marijuana in Bengaluru – a witty premise that loses its appeal due to excessive length.

The dynamic between Rama and Alexander, who is unknowingly his adversary, is also elaborated to such an extent that audience disengagement would not be surprising. Adding insult to injury, Ramana Avatara concludes without providing a satisfactory culmination to the highly anticipated showdown between the lead and the antagonist.

The intent to deliver a comedy-filled rollercoaster experience is clear, but its execution is flawed. The film persistently drags even after addressing the central conflict, resulting in viewer frustration. The echoing silence in a crowded cinema, expected to resonate with laughter during a comedy-drama, speaks volumes about the audience’s reception.

Ramana Avatara is now showing in theaters.

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