Raatchasi movie review: Jyothika's screen presence makes this predictable film watchable
Raatchasi is just another film from a debutant director who is in awe of his heroine’s superstar status and goes overboard on it.
Jyothika-starrer Raatchasi is a typical super-woman movie that south heroines dish out when they mature and cross over from being regular heroines. Here, the entire focus is on the wonder heroine who does everything similar to Tamil cinema’s larger-than-life heroes. In fact, director Gowthamraj, at the press meet of the film, had said that he had initially written the story keeping Jyothika’s husband Suriya in mind.
The trailer of the film made it clear that it is set against the milieu of a rundown government school in a remote place that lacks basic amenities. The local politicians call the shots, and students and teachers are a law unto themselves. Will Jyothika, as a strict headmistress, be able to take on the corrupt and outdated crumbling educational system? It is a favourite subject with Tamil directors in a state where the government spends one-third of its income on education. In fact, in the last few years, the rot within the Tamil Nadu education system has been a favourite subject with filmmakers since the success of low budget films like Sattai and Pallikoodam.
Geeta Rani (Jyothika) walks into a totally lawless government school in a far off place in south Tamil Nadu. As the new headmistress, she finds students and teachers are indisciplined, and come to school to while away their time. The authorities are least bothered, the teachers lack basic knowledge in their subjects (the English teacher cannot even speak English), and nearby private schools are trying to wean away students. Geeta tries her best to bring in discipline and change the way the school is run. For the same, she earns the wrath of teachers and rivals who name her raatchasi (demoness).
The cunning Rama Lingam (Hareesh Peradi), who runs a private school, is determined to smoke her out of the school, for which he gets the support of a local MLA and some disgruntled staff. And soon, Geeta runs into trouble with the district administration as she tries to bring about a change within the outdated education system. The plot is as old as the hills: A one-woman army taking on the might of the administration which has vested interests. Whether she will succeed in her mission forms the rest of the story of this predictable film.
Raatchasi is just another film from a debutant director who is in awe of his heroine’s superstar status and goes overboard on it. In almost every frame of the 134-minute film, Jyothika towers over others and is given powerful dialogues, punchlines and slo-mo shots like a mass hero. In fact, there is even an action scene unbecoming of a headmistress but justified by a back story, which itself is an image-building exercise.
Jyothika, in the title role, shines as the film belongs to her. No other character in the film leaves an impression as powerful as Geeta Rani. The scene where her father passes away, and she holds her emotions and returns to work after taking half a day's leave, is poignant and heartbreaking.
Raatchasi skims through issues plaguing the education system and offers a one-woman army as the solution. It lacks a solid screenplay but is enjoyable thanks to the screen presence of Jyothika.
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