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Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Cast:Vivek Oberoi, Abhimanyu Singh, Shatrughan Sinha, Sushant Singh, Ashish Vidyarthi, Rajendra Gupta, Radhika Apte, Zarina Wahab, Ashwini Kalsekar
Based on the life of Paritala Ravi, slain Andhra leader, Rakta Charitra takes its title very seriously. There's more blood in this film than I've seen in a long, long time. It begins with bloody swords being washed in a stream, after having hacked off necks. After that it's open season. Limbs are dismembered, rocks are thrown at chests, rats are pushed into bloody cuts made in intestines, guns are emptied into guts.
There's no doubt that the plot requires blood. A Dalit leader is brutally massacred by his political lord and master. His sons decide to take revenge. The older one (Sushant) is killed. The younger Pratap Ravi (Oberoi) learns as he goes along, and soon gathers an army which is as strong as the one that pays allegiance to his ruthless opponent Bukka Reddy (Abhimanyu).
The systematic decimation of his enemies is gone through with equal ruthlessness. Pratap Ravi, with the help of canny politician Sivaji (Sinha, doing a fairly credible NT Rama Rao) gets on top of the power pyramid in Andhra Pradesh. Ram Gopal Varma's all-male parade does make space for a few women — Pratap's wife (Apte) and mother (Wahab), and a female cop (Kalsekar). But they are strictly peripheral by the time the first part of Rakta Charitra ends, the first two serving food to Pratap's cronies and well-wishers, the last being shot dead by the villain.
It is an interesting story, and Oberoi, re-united with RGV after Company does a good job as Ravi. But the blood overtakes it all: Rakta Charitra is not for the faint-hearted. Part 2, which releases next month, looks equally lurid, but it has, for compensation, Tamil superstar Surya, making his Hindi debut.
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