The numbers speak for director-actor Jatin Bora’s Ratnagar. In a film industry with just 65 screens, what the film has managed is no mean feat. It is into its sixth week, and has already collected Rs. 9 crore, the highest so far for any Assamese film. Add to this the fact that the film was completed on a budget of Rs. 1.5 crore, and this achievement becomes even more impressive. But, is the film inspired by Vijay’s 2016 superhit Theri?
“It is certainly not a copy or a remake of Theri,” says Navanita Sarma, the film’s co-producer and director-actor Jatin Bora’s wife. “I understand the term “inspired” being used to describe our film, but it is not a copy. If it had been, I would have never thought of releasing the film in Chennai,” she says. She admits they had to cut another trailer for the film after reports surfaced of comparisons with Theri, directed by Atlee.
The storyline of the film sounds similar, though. A father (Jatin Bora) and daughter (Ashramika Saikia) live in a remote village, and the first scene is that of the father dropping his kid to school on his bike. We’re also introduced to her bespectacled class teacher. We soon get a fun song featuring the daily life of the father and daughter.
Later, when a groups of thugs messes with the teacher and the girl, the father does nothing. When the same group attacks their home later that night, the father changes his stance. In a rain-soaked fight, he beats the thugs to a pulp. This leads to the teacher asking him who he really is.
“Ratnakar isn’t about the past life of a police officer. In fact, I watched Theri twice after these similarities were brought to my notice. I agree that the first 20 minutes or so may seem inspired, but the rest of the film is totally different,” says Navanita, adding: “To begin with, the hero of our film used to be a gangster for hire. But, he is also a good man who uses his power and money to keep an old age home running. This is why the villain’s daughter falls in love with him. The main conflict is because of the obstacles thrown at our hero by the heroine’s father. The villain feels the hero is incapable of taking care of his daughter, and so wants to take away his granddaughter from him before she too is hurt. Another difference is that the hero’s wife isn’t killed by the villain; she dies after being hit by a vehicle while crossing the road.”
However, the fight scenes share a few similarities. “Our stunt choreographer Rajesh Kannan hails from the South, and we’ve tried to bring a lot of technical aspects from there to our industry, which is a first,” says Navanita.
The emotions are what majorly led to the film’s success, she feels. “More than the action, the story about the father and daughter really clicked with our audience. Along with entertainment, the Assamese audience also enjoys a good cry, and that’s why so many people have come to watch our film,” she says.
For such a huge number to be generated at the box office, Navanita says that as many as 90 lakh people would have had to watch the film. “Our budget is not even one-50th the budget of Theri, but we’re glad we could make such a big impact.”