Raado; Beauty and disgust in the poetry of violence
Raado is beautiful in its broken parts, creative in its nature, and decorated chaos when it's lost. Raado’ is a 2022 Gujarati film- the dates are not mentioned, the time is not important, and there is only one timid hint about the time, which is the teeming Ahmedabad at night, lost under blazing lights, and bureaucratic confusion of power in the midst of Riots, and other is dull light of the sun, when there are no people at all, not interesting at least as the characters of Raado are under the banners of the white but dark moon. It reminds me of a quote from George R.R Martin’s ‘Game of Thrones
The night is dark and full of terrors, the day bright and beautiful and full of hope. One is black, The other white. There is ice and fire. Hate and love.
Raado starts with shots of some students waiting outside the college, to beat and break the chancellor of the college, ideally and quite literally. There’s poetry in violence from one of the first shots of the film, and then that poetry is followed everywhere in distant breaks with mundanity, and boredom.
Rahul Munjariya composed the music for the film. Raado starts with a powerful theme song, long and loud, composed in between it seems a complex genre-bending musical trail, the power of the mellow jazz theme in between at first feels like music, by the end of the film that jazz has been metamorphosed to work as automated adrenaline boost shots to stab the audience into their hearts, to metaphorically kill the audience, to develop a sense of grief, to make us feel.
To tell a story about power, one must have a delicate understanding of it, a deep and cerebral grasp on the very root of it. Raado is not linear with its narrative. The story’s pace is set on cues of the phone rings, it reminds me of Wes Anderson’s ‘Blink on Cue’. The tale is not a pity spiel nor is it an Art-house ’ed take on realist narrative… It’s simplistic because there’s a clear portrayal of the dichotomy of power, a crass comparison of privilege, and Yash Soni’s crude but philosophically accurate portrayal of an anarchist son of a Politician father.
There is a naïve belief that power is enough, without sympathizing that power may be produced in different contexts. The film constantly tries to disseminate power in these different contexts. Boredom rises in between these confusions but when one starts to notice this boredom, one’s already been hypnotized by the violent saga that has already been going on. There is a bizarre sense of meaninglessness around the city, I was confused if it was a troupe to help us understand reality, or either escape it wholly.
The film’s main concentration is riots and its consequence. Its main focus nonetheless is religion and politics. Marx’s personification of Opium is truly fuelled here with the delineation of followers of the cult ruled by Madhvi (Nikita Sharma) Every frame is a consequence, of a consequence, a thing that is normal in films, but it’s patronizing to see the emphasis on it given here. There is an Immediate kind of urgency to change the genre of the film.
The film thrives on the idea of revolution. Its base as a political film works only when the Inqilabi is heard everywhere, only when the change is just not seen but felt. The rounding-up of each arc of each character seems to be a tiring job which they’ve pulled off with narrative trickery of blasts, guns, and violence.
When the film completely is changed into revenge drama it’s a grotesque reminder of modern life and its maddening whiplash that allows revenge and toleration to coincide together. It reminds me of what Hannah Arendt called, in the context of Nazis packing off Jews into the concentration camp, “The banality of evil”- To perform evil without actually being evil. When the cult followers kill people, there’s a slight nod at moral indifference but there’s complete subservience to the leader. That is where Raado breaks and is beautiful, that is where its true nature is shrugged off, That is where all the chaos is decorated.
We’re very much like the people whose cars got burned, whose bikes got destroyed, The audience does not just work as silent spectators, but as silent protestors. The end seems inevitable, The film has a charm attached to it. Good literature and great cinema have this tendency to make us more than spectators. And this film hovers on the erotic chaos of perspectives. By the end of the film, we will be sometimes criminals, sometimes victims, and sometimes both altogether.