Ritu – Movie review

Movie name: Ritu (Seasons)
Director: Shyamaprasad
Story & script: Joshua Newton
Music: Rahul Raj

It has been some time since I have watched a movie in theaters. Watching a movie in theaters has its own advantages and disadvantages. If the crowd around or with you is annoying enough, you lose the mood to enjoy the experience that only a cinema hall can provide. So, I usually skip most of the movies until it comes on CD. But Shyamaprasad is a favorite director of mine. There are only a few films which I go to watch by the director’s name and Shyam is one of them. I have been religiously following his films ever since his Door Darshan tele-serial days. So I decided to go to watch his latest film, Ritu, and I didn’t even call my friends to come along to avoid any kind of distraction and immerse myself fully into the movie.

Ritu tells the story of three friends and what the time has done to their relationships. The backdrop is of IT sector. Ritu is Shyam’s first work with an original story and screenplay (by Joshua Newton) and it is a youth oriented movie. So obviously the expectations were sky high. But when the movie ended, I was left with no emotion except the deep disappointment that I had. Regardless of the talented new faces, Ritu fails to strike an emotional chord.

Look at the scene where Sarath (Nishant) sees his father’s death in the hospital. There is a good scope of making you feel the intensity of the scene or the stillness of that moment. But you look at it with the same blank mind that you had from the beginning of the movie. You would want to force yourself to feel something about the scene, but with no luck. See the whole composition of the scene, the ridiculously looking doctor (who gives a good laugh to the audience by his ‘acting style’ right from his first appearance), and I couldn’t really believe that I was watching a Shyamaprasad movie.

Flashbacks seem to be a favorite technique in Shyamaprasad’s movies. It has worked very well in his movies and telefilms too. Take “Peruvazhiyile Kariyilakal” or “Akale” for example. But the flashbacks actually flashes at you in every single minute of this movie in the first half. Sarath drives – flash back, he keeps on driving – flash back, he halts – flash back, he looks sideways – flash back. Flash back, flash back… it flashes on your face repeatedly! I would say a good technique is to choose a few flashback scenes and fit it in appropriate parts, rather than flashing it all on our faces one after another.

Another thing is that Ritu focuses on multiple stories but not in a “Crash” or “21 Grams” or “Babel” way. Those movies, even though they tell stories of different lives, it all connects to one single thread beautifully. But Ritu wants to touch everything that the IT world (or shouldn’t I say competitive corporate world?) has made an impact on. The cleaner guy’s story is a good example. We get to know from his first appearance that he is a displaced citizen because of the internet city. We see his plight when we see the way his boss treats him. Or the scene in the elevator where he looks alienated among an executive crowd. Those were good enough, but wait! They had to make him talk about his plight by himself to make us “feel”. But what felt through the “scenes” were not felt by the “dialogues”.

The climax was the most disappointing. I thought the movie would end after the conversation of Sarath and Varsha in the car park. Sarath talks about people changing like seasons, and he doesn’t want to see Varsha or Sunny ever again. The movie could have ended there, but no, they want us to know what would happen to Sunny in the matter of data theft, and what would happen to him and Varsha after 3 years, and then again a copy of Sarath’s book to convince us that he indeed wrote a book. Such a pathetic climax compared to Shyam’s previous movie Ore Kadal. Compare the climax of this movie with the climax of Ore Kadal. There, Nathan and Deepthi hugs each other and Deepthi’s kids walk up the stairs. We are not told whether Nathan and Deepthi would live together or what would happen to Jayan. It was left to the audience. But look at the climax of Ritu. I would say just one thing – sometimes you don’t need to explain everything and better leave it to the audience so that they can take something back when they leave the movie hall.

The only saving grace of the movie is it’s actors – Rima Kallingal as Varsha is the most talented of them all. She handled her role perfectly well for a new comer. Nishant as Sarath Varma comes to second. Asif has also done a good job as Sunny. Manu Jose as Jithu was quite natural. He and director M G Sasi as Sarath’s brother Hari are two characters with some life. They were really wonderful even though they had short roles.

Music by Rahul Raj is good. My favorite pick from the album is the song “Pularumo“, sung by Gayathri. The male vocals seem to go out of pitch in the very beginning of the song; in the part where he sings “oru kanaleriyunnatho“. I don’t know how the music director did not notice it.

The background music was disappointing. It comes with some rock guitars at one time, which would make us think it is going to take the movie into another pace, but it ends within a couple of minutes. It pops up again when we do not expect it and then again ends as soon as it is heard. I think we have so much to learn from Hollywood on how to use background music to add value to the scenes.

Shyamaprasad is very good at adapted screenplays. I think he would do a good job with a Malayalam adaptation of One Night at Call Center with the actors of this movie. Nishant as Shyam, Asif as Vroom and Rima as Priyanka would have made a perfect fit (don’t you think some of the scenes like the car sex of Sarath-Varsha remind you of Shyam-Priyanka’s love making scene from the book ON@CC ?)!

To sum up, Ritu is a deeply disappointing movie. I admire the writing of Joshua Newton by reading his English blog from a long time, but I think he has so much to improve on script writing after this maiden attempt. I have heard one thing about script writing from a friend who is a movie buff, which he quoted from a book. If a movie’s striking point doesn’t come up in the first 20 or 30 minutes, it is not worthy of watching fully. I think it is so true about Ritu.