Raatchasi is a tale of a headmaster who transforms the fortunes of a Govt school in a small TN village.
Raatchasi is a genuinely earnest film made with heart. Generally, Tamil filmmakers use top heroes to change the system. We have seen Kamal Haasan, Arjun, Rajinikanth and Vijay in similar roles. For a change, debutant director Gowtham Raj has chosen Jyotika to do a mass hero role who is ready to clean up a Government school filled with undisciplined students, lazy teachers, and poor administration.
A good teacher can change your life. Geetha Rani (Jyotika) comes to a Government school in South Tamil Nadu, with a kid for admission. Without knowing that Geetha is the newly appointed Headmistress, the teachers and staff disrespect her. A superb intro scene awaits you and it is a scream. After this superb introduction, the mystery around her is slowly unveiled. She also gets an action scene with a bunch of goons in a closed classroom (Was that scene needed? or maybe added to please B and C audiences?) Then there is a 'Baashhaa' kind of flashback episode which explains the reason behind her rough and tough look, ability to bash up strong men and how she got the headmistress post at this young age. The first half plays out engagingly.
Kudos, Gautham Raj for your honest effort but the film would have worked much better with a subtle treatment. On the positive side, the film has many sweet moments. The small boy with that winsome smile who often expresses his love for Jyotika, the way she interacts with girl students at school and how she gives a chance to her rival colleague to give his best. The scene where Jyotika faces a personal loss and how she breaks the so-called customs is another laudable moment in the film.
However, the climax becomes preachy and we really wonder whether Jyotika is the Chief Minister or Headmistress of a school? But that's fine, why should male stars in the industry have all the fun?
Raatchasi works mainly because of Jyotika, as her performance is solid and sincere. She is in there in every frame and is in superb form. She has even put on a little weight to look convincing as a teacher. Though it takes some time to sync with her character, slowly she grabs our attention and makes us travel along with her.
Hareesh Peradi as the Private school correspondent ends up like a caricature whereas the rest of the actors including Sathyan, Muthuraman, and Kavithabharathi are adequate. The film would have worked even more if Gautham had developed these characters without stereotypically showcasing them. The character of Poornima Bhagyaraj also lacks depth.
Technically, Sean Roldan's songs and background score elevate the film while Gokul Benoy's visuals also deserve applause. The runtime is 2hr and 15 mins, which is another positive aspect of the film. To conclude, Raatchasi is a mainstream social drama highlighting the issues faced by Government school students.
Watch it for the topical message, sharp dialogues (Bharathi Thambi) and an earnest Jyotika.
Raatchasi review: Watchable