Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ramji Rao Speaking (1989)

Director: Siddique-Lal
Writers:  Siddique-Lal
Cast:       Mukesh, Saikumar, Innocent, Rekha, Devan
Language: Malayalam

Three unemployed men find the answers to all their financial problems when they decide to get in the middle of a kidnap and ransom scheme.

Siddique-Lal had their first on screen credit in Nadodikattu which was based on their story idea. Ramji Rao Speaking was their directorial debut which also introduced actors like Saikumar, Rekha, Harishree Ashokan and N.F. Varghese into  Malayalam cinema. The character Mannar Mathai played by Innocent is the one with which he is identified most with and the comedy is delivered in a deadpan style. The film has much in common with Nadodikattu in the sense that unemployment is the major theme and they are both more complete films when compared with their respective sequels, 'Mannar Mathai Speaking' and 'Pattanapravesham' which can be considered as more funny.

Siddique-Lal directed films can be classed into two categories, with the first one comprising of 'Ramji Rao Speaking', 'Godfather' and 'Vietnam Colony' and the second one consisting of 'In Harihar Nagar', 'Kabooliwalah' and 'Mannar Mathai Speaking'. The distinction is based on the fact that films in the first category doesn't feel like having some portion purely dedicated for comedy and some portion for serious matters whereas in the second category we get such a feeling. In the latter category films, the first halves are purely dedicated to comedy which is then followed up with a segment of extreme seriousness. I am not saying that this is a drawback because when done properly like in 'In Harihar Nagar', it doesn't matter but 'Kabbolowallah' and 'Mannar Mathai Speaking' can be considered as their weakest films.

If I was asked to identify their best film, it would be a tossup between 'Ramji Rao Speaking' and 'In Harihar Nagar' and I don't think many would disagree with this. For me 'Ramji Rao Speaking' is a better film and has a higher quality of humor since it doesn't rely on an extremely stupid character like Jagadish's 'Appukuttan'. The film was a super hit in Kerala and was remade in Tamil (Fazil) and in Hindi (Priyadarshan). The Hindi one 'Hera Pheri' is one of the better Hindi films that I have seen but still noway near the quality as its original.

Rating: 5/5