There is an old saying in Kannada: “Nadi moola hagu rishi moola huduka baaradu”. This means that you should never go looking for the origin of a river or a saint. But, it is a primary need of the human mind to find out where we have come from and where we are headed, even though we know full well that research takes away everything we have in the present. And yet, the eternally curious mind will not listen. It pushes us to pursue an imaginary life of what could have been rather than humbly appreciating what we already have.
Take the case of Odipe. It would have been better if he had found a way to just ignore the truth. He disregards the advice of his supporters and his relentless perseverance in seeking the truth leads to his downfall. Yes, the truth will set us free, but usually there is always an asterisk involved. The truth is always difficult to digest and it is very likely that it will only bring more heartache and restlessness instead of putting his mind at ease.
We pay dearly before we learn to count our blessings. Rathnakara (Dhananjay) in Rathnan Prapancha, which means the world of Rathna, learns this lesson the hard way. Mayuri (Reba Monica John) meets Rathnakara as part of her project, which is to help people who were separated from their blood ties at a young age. She helps them discover the truth about their origin. Mayuri tells Rathnakara that his real mother gave him up for adoption when he was young and that he has a younger sister.
An ever-cranky Rathnakara, who is still at odds with his mother Saroja (a wonderful Umashree), decides to follow any clues that would lead him to his origin. And in the desire to expand his world, he brings into play his most precious blessing, his adoptive mother.
Director Rohit Padaki, who also wrote the film, also wants to use this film to remind us that India is a land of many languages, religions, traditions and cultures. Rathnakara’s life is very different from that of her siblings. Yes, he also finds out that he has another brother. In his previous life he had an older sister and a younger brother. His choice of religious belief, fashion, eating habits, and other likes and dislikes is very different from that of his siblings.
While her sister grew up in a Muslim family called Tabassum and is now settled in Kashmir, her brother Udaal Babu Rao lives like a royal in northern Karnataka under the care of his beloved foster mother. Other than the fact that they are all from the same mother, they have nothing in common. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are siblings. Neither Tabassum nor Babu Rao had to sacrifice their identity, beliefs, practices and relationships to become Rathnakara’s brother and be part of Rathnan Prapancha.
Rathnan Prapancha is a solid wellness film that reflects the mistakes we make as individuals and as members of society. And it also shows us what we could become if we let go of our prejudices and our irrational fear of the Other and if we unite as human brothers.
While every actor in the film has sunk its teeth into their characters, it’s Umashree as Saroja, who walks away with our admiration. She is quite natural as a free-spirited mother, who ignores her son’s imperfections and supports him through his irritations and confusions. And Pramod Panju deserves special mention for his performance as the loving, badass son of the village.
Rathnan Prapancha is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.