With a movie titled, Ritu, one would expect a figurative story rich in spring, scorching in the summer, pouring in autumn, and chilly in winter. I’m not really talking about the seasons per se, but the variety of emotions a movie called Ritu might invoke in viewers. Unfortunately, for Ritu, the season doesn’t really change. Watching Ritu is like standing under boiling heat—without shade, refreshments, and no sign of any horizon nearby to instill hope that something positive, something worth cheering for is just around the corner.
Suraj (Raj Ballav Koirala) is this spineless lad who is in love with the perennial gold-digger Kripa (Reema Bishowkarma). The two share a common friend, Meena (Malina Joshi)—the industrious, warm-hearted, and chivalrous woman, the embodiment of virtue. As their paths cross, a love triangle ensues, or at least that’s the intention, but the story has other ideas. In what appears to be writing in auto mode, a tug-off war commences between the trio, a merry-go-round affair of love, hatred, loyalty, and betrayal. With the two women pulling the switch in a war of philosophies for a man who seems a rather immature child in search of his mother—who also happens to be stuck in the psychic mode of Id unable or unwilling to differentiate right from wrong, maturity from immaturity, whilst being utterly gullible and incapable of coherently making any decisions. That’s right. Meena and Kripa agree to wrestle their wits for the richest prize in the game—the hand of Suraj. Not without controversies though…
The character of Suraj is somewhat of a puzzle. And, I don’t mean that in a positive way. Suraj appears to be an overgrown child—prone to depressive suicidal thoughts and perhaps with a bipolar disorder ranging from extreme gloominess that makes him whimper more than a baby to a state of denial making him inept in differentiating the real from the unreal, true from false. In such a case, he’s in need of a Therapist more than a lover, or a mother, which he is seeking in Meena… Nonetheless, these two superwomen—one the epitome of Goddess Parvati and the other, the modern incarnation of the nymph Urvashi—both go haywire for a 24 year old man, with emotional and intellectual ages of two and four in that order, for their own reasons.
Within the first ten minutes itself, the movie shapes into a cringe-worthy, irritable chitchat where personalities in the movie come and moan in cycles. Each character pops out in randomness and starts evangelizing their Bhagvata Mahapurana endlessly. It reaches a stage when headache becomes an omnipresent character in the movie—dwarfing the roles of the main leads. As such, to call Ritu a disappointment would be to compliment it. It doesn’t appoint, let alone disappointment.
Fundamentally, whatever happened to showing viewers actions and advancing the plot through a plausible narrative; Ritu not only lacks that but also goes completely overdrive with the exposition and the liberty of chitchat in advancing the story. One would honestly assume that the makers of Ritu targeted Radio broadcasting as its medium of expression, so viewers could understand the happenings, even if they had their eyes shut. In fact, Ritu could be called a groundbreaking movie, as it is perhaps the first ever modern mainstream commercial movie made for Radio broadcasting. After all, adequate synchronization of dialogs and delivery wouldn’t matter in Radio, right? Whilst verbal exposition could be acceptable in some unique scenarios—Raincoat of Rituparno Ghosh or Kill Bill Vol. 2 of Quentin Tarantino spring to mind; ultimately though, in Ritu, one would be harried to distinguish the movie as a motion picture or a talk show in which characters are more emphasizing in enlightening the viewers about love, relationships, and marital issues than showing them the story through images, sequences, and tight chronicling. When such a mainstream movie does nothing but serve as an earpiece, any good attribute is bound to be overlooked—not that Ritu has any of those proclaimed good attributes.
From the characterization, premise, to the progression of the story, the characters barely show any growth. They remain the same throughout the movie. Their motives and actions have no impact on their growth as a character, which makes the movie an annoying extension of a short phase stretched to eternity than an account spanning four years as shown in the movie. Basically, they start as 16-year-old emotional fools and end up around the same mark, without accomplishing anything as individuals. The state of mind remains repetitious throughout the course of the story. Make no mistake though, the concept isn’t poor by any means, the execution; however, makes the world in the movie and the journey of the characters all jumbled and in an exaggerated mess.
Shot extensively in Australia, which is a positive for the growth of Nepali Cinema, and utilizing constant cuts between the future and the present adopting the style similar to what Derek Cianfrance used in Blue Valentine, the idea is praise-worthy and is probably one of the livelier aspects of the movie; but when a story lacks a thoughtful manuscript, it becomes redundant and Ritu serves as a prime example. Ritu does have a solid premise. The inherent core of the story could hardly be faulted, yet it fuddles all over. The direction is not convincing. Director Manoj Adhikari handles the topic and the movie poorly, with all aspects in the movie failing one way or the other: the story, direction, the dubbing, and alarmingly the movie fails to capitalize the scenic composition of Australia largely due to sloppy camerawork. For a movie involving professionals, the amateur element is universal, yet shocking, or perhaps not, is the overall direction and story of the movie.
To add, Ritu is barely seasonal. Featuring one-dimensional characters, some that are hysterically amusing—the likes of Lomus (whatever that name is), Rajiv, Charlie, and the other drunk dude who ends up fighting with Suraj spring to mind. Not to ignore the dreadful Professor who looked like a comedian mimicking a professor than enacting the role of one. I don’t know want to argue about capitalism or democracy, but the capital spent on this movie would have been better utilized elsewhere and the democratic consensus at the theater I watched was of a damp squib.
Having said that all in generosity, Ritu does have some positives, if only one dared to sit through the entire movie. Malina Joshi as Meena takes the honor for her performance and is worth appraising and complimenting. The single shining chink of positivity in the armor of Ritu, Malina Joshi shows bags of potential despite her overcooked and utopian-esque character. She gives her best shot as an actor and it would be interesting to watch her perform under capable makers and with a strong script. Overall though, Ritu is a bland showing—no colors and rather dull vibes—a mere talk show that goes on and on in which the characters talk and talk, moan, shriek, whine, moan some more, and cry their eyes out. It’s one everlasting monotonous chat show devoid of lighter moments, dramatics, and the art of plot vivacity. The unending misery of the same Ritu—to sum it up!