Sri Raghupati, starring Ravi Sarma in the titular role, ran into legal waters on June 1, 2023, just a day before its scheduled release across Assam on June 2, 2023.
Most of us know that the movie's release has been temporarily stalled. Let us not talk about that. But still, if you want to know, then click here.
I was one of those who watched Sri Raghupati's premier show at the iconic Anuradha Cinecomplex on June 1.
If you ask if I liked the movie, I will say, 'Yes, I did'.
If you ask me if Sri Raghupati is a masterpiece, I will say, 'No, it is not, and it has never tried to be one'.
The story of Sri Raghupati is something we have witnessed on the big screen numerous times. Good's victory over evil is the crux of the story.
Yet, the movie is different and important for the Assamese film industry, which has been in ventilation mode for several years.
There are plenty of haters to highlight the negatives of the movie. Negativity spreads faster, so I am here with some positives. The movie has a lot of positives, and not just some.
The primary reason why you should watch this movie is that it is an entertaining Assamese movie in the real sense.
No, I am not saying you should watch it because it is an Assamese movie. But watch it because this is an Assamese movie with many common and several uncommon.
So, what is common? The story, the screenplay (in most parts), and... I will update you if I can find something. I am still thinking.
And what is uncommon?
Screenplay, the story, acting, casting of actors, and much more.
No, do not be confused.
Yes, the screenplay is weak in parts (in most), but the stronger parts overshadow the weaker parts.
The screenplay of Sri Raghupati is like a sinusoidal curve; the only difference is that it goes higher and higher after a point in time. There was not a dull moment in the film, even after the screenplay lapsed. I never realised how the 120+ minutes passed.
The story is common, but the execution is tight and bright.
Never, ever did I imagine that I would see Arun Nath in such a versatile role. He broke free from the typecast. He elevates the movie to a different level.
"As an actor, I will say that Arun Nath got a character to play, and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands," said another actor from the film, requesting anonymity.
"I have worked in several films with the best of the best, but this movie is different," he added.
At this point, I can only think of one song that I can associate with the legendary actor: Freddy Mercury's I Want To Break Free.
To break away from the image of a fatherly figure, which we all have grown up watching Arun Nath portray, certainly must have been a challenge for him. Seeing him play this street-smart character, all I felt is that perhaps he was waiting for such a character. Perhaps he was waiting to get out of his comfort zone. Perhaps he was singing I Want To Break Free in his head ever since he started acting.
If I have to sum up his performance in one word then I would say it was "hoof!"
Destiny, luck, or even God can play the nastiest games to keep us from doing the things we love the most. But if our spirit is indomitable and our desire strong, can any force stop us from achieving the heights we desire? No, certainly not.
Raj Sarma, as the antagonist, has not just portrayed one of the finest performances in the film. Still, he has also shown us what an indomitable spirit can achieve.
Those who know Raj Sarma know what I am talking about. And if you don't, watch my interview with Raj Sarma here to quell your hunger.
Siddhartha Sarma of KK fame from 'Behorbari Outpost' has once again proven why he is one of the finest Indian actors.
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As a corrupt political leader, Arun Hazarika has once again infused life into a common character. In one of the scenes when he was mocking the hero, the person sitting next to me shouted, "You are dead, man, you are dead. Thrash him, Raghu, thrash him."
This is the type of connection the filmmakers want with the audience, and SUV and his team score 10/10 in this department.
Ravi Sarma, as Raghupati, has delivered a restrained performance. It becomes extremely tentative for an actor to go into superhuman mode while doing such a film, but Ravi Sarma has remained very humane.
Apart from working on restrained action performances, he has delivered a notable show while bringing out the emotional part of the character.
The rest of the actors in the supporting cast (I don't know most of the names) have proven their importance in the film, which is another reason why Sri Raghupati is an important film.
In most hero-centric films from Assam, where he goes on a mission to save his abducted girlfriend or fights the goon to protect his daughter, the detailing of the character actors is often missing.
Thanks to SUV and his team for making the side characters as important as the leads.
Priyam Pallabee nailed her character as the hero's sister. She has some of the most memorable and beautiful scenes in the movie.
Preety Kongkona, the female lead, also has some noteworthy scenes.
In a film that is heavily centred around the hero, the female characters shine whenever they have the chance to do so.
The action sequences, barring a few, including the climax, are refreshing and top-notch. Its BGM is unlike the typical Assamese BGMs of "action" and "thriller" films.
Sri Raghupati's comedy is subtle and refreshing, and it is far better than being just "local".
There are several memorable punchlines and sequences that stays on with you even after coming out fo the theatre.
After talking to different individuals who went to watch the premiere, it became evident that Sri Raghupati will undeniably leave a lasting impact on the Assamese filmmaking style, particularly within the action genre.
Sri Raghupati is a pure action entertainer. An action film of this scale has been made after many years in Assam. Neither the makers try to overdo, nor underdo. But as said earlier, the climax could have been a touch better.
The makers witnessed the anti-CAA movement and then the COVID-19 pandemic, because of which the shooting was stopped for a considerable period.
While most films would have been shelved had so many obstacles sprung up, the team of Sri Raghupati continued to surge forward. They were optimistic. They are optimistic.
Watch Sri Raghupati and ignite your positive passion for achieving something that the majority thinks is unachievable, impossible, and improbable.
The movie will definitely be released in a theatre near you. Do not miss it when it does. It deserves all your love and affection, not because it is an Assamese movie but because it is a good and entertaining Assamese movie.
Partha Prawal (Goswami) is a Guwahati-based journalist who loves to write about entertainment, sports, and social and civic issues among others. He is also a published author.