Rangasthalam (2018) Malayalam

The film begins with Chelluboina Chittibabu trying to meet MLA Dakshina Murthy at the latter’s guesthouse. Dakshina Murthy is fatally injured in an accident, and Chittibabu moves him to the nearest hospital.

The film then cuts to flashback six months ago, and Chittibabu is introduced as a partially deaf, ill-tempered, jovial resident of a village named Rangasthalam. He earns a living by watering irrigational fields using a motor owned by his friend Kolli Rangamma, whom he refers to as atta (aunt), and is assisted by another villager named Mahesh. Chittibabu lives with his parents and sister, while his brother Chelluboina Kumar Babu has left for employment in the Gulf. Chittibabu is in love with Ramalakshmi, a farmer who is initially unaware of his hearing impairment. Rangasthalam’s local Government body is led by the president of the panchayat Phanindra Bhupathi, an influential, cruel landlord who misuses the Co-operative society, which wrongly encroaches the farmers’ lands under the pretext of unpaid loans and charging higher interest rates.

Kumar Babu returns to Rangasthalam, and is disappointed at the happenings in the village. Ramalakshmi’s land is seized by the society for not paying the balance loan. However, she and Kumar Babu argue with the society that her mother had paid the loan before dying, and that the accounts show inflated amounts. Chittibabu learns from Mahesh that Bhupathi’s henchman Sheshu Naidu had insulted the former’s father Koteswara Rao in front of the villagers for Kumar Babu’s acts. An enraged Chittibabu holds grudge on Ramalakshmi and fights with Sheshu Naidu. The next day, Chittibabu reconciles with Ramalakshmi, but gets arrested for harming the employees of the society. With Bhupathi denying to help, Kumar Babu approaches Dakshina Murthy, who arranges for Chittibabu’s bail.

Realising that there must be a change in authority, Kumar Babu signs a nomination for the position of President of Rangasthalam with Dakshina Murthy’s support. Kumar Babu and Chittibabu gain support from the villagers over time, with few of them filing nominations for the position of ward members. However, Rangamma opposes and tells Chittibabu about the death of her husband, a Dubai-based businessman, whom all were assuming to be alive. He was murdered brutally when he stood up against Bhupathi and trying to file nomination for the President’s post. Rangamma warns Chittibabu that many others faced similar consequences when they opposed Bhupathi. Chittibabu keeps guarding Kumar Babu to the point of suspecting everyone around, earning the latter’s ire. Chittibabu also takes bribe from Bhupathi and tries to force the villagers withdraw their nominations. However, after watching Kumar Babu threatening to give up his life, Chittibabu changes his mind and returns money to Bhupathi.

Chittibabu and Mahesh eventually find a group of strangers with weapons, and suspect that Kumar Babu’s life is in danger. Kumar Babu, who had gone to meet his girlfriend Padma in the neighbouring town, is attacked by the group at the outskirts of Rangasthalam. Chittibabu manages to save Kumar Babu from death, but the latter’s throat is slit by a veiled man when Chittibabu leaves for fetching first aid. Before dying, Kumar Babu tries to communicate something to Chittibabu, which the latter could not hear. To avenge his brother’s murder, Chittibabu and the villagers attack Bhupathi’s house. He finds out that Bhupathi has ran away fearing for his life, and continues to search for him in the neighbourhood areas. Meanwhile, Rangamma is unanimously elected as the President of Rangasthalam.

Rangamma and the villagers visit the annual Tirunaal, where Chittibabu observes a group of dancers reciting “Srimannarayana” in a devotional hymn dedicated to the deity of the same name. He recollects that Kumar Babu was trying to say something that night, and deduces that he was repeating the name Srimannarayana. Chittibabu realises that it was the name of Dakshina Murthy’s assistant, and rushes to meet Dakshina Murthy for help. He, however, fails as the latter is fatally injured in an accident in front of his eyes.

The film then returns to the present, where Chittibabu is shown attending to a comatose Dakshina Murthy without even returning to his village. The doctors opine that Dakshina Murthy may not recover, and suggest euthanasia. However, Chittibabu is against the suggestion, and continues to serve Dakshina Murthy for two years. One day, Dakshina Murthy regains consciousness, and is elected as a minister two months later. Chittibabu visits his place along with Ramalakshmi, and wishes to talk with him in private. Chittibabu then reveals that he found Bhupathi hiding in the bushes at the Northern region of Rangasthalam, and killed him to avenge the deaths of many people who opposed his tyranny. Dakshina Murthy finds his act justifiable and supports him.

Chittibabu then reveals that he is aware of Dakshina Murthy’s involvement in Kumar Babu’s death, which was a case of honour killing. When a shocked Dakshina Murthy tries to deny, Chittibabu says that Srimannarayana did reveal the truth to him in his final moments. Dakshina Murthy’s motive to murder Kumar Babu is revealed to be the latter’s relationship with Padma, who happens to be his younger daughter. Chittibabu adds that he waited for two years so that Dakshina Murthy can recover fully and thereby realise the pain he caused whilst dying. Chittibabu then murders Dakshina Murthy and leaves the building along with Ramalakshmi, as Padma arrives with her husband.

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