A still from the film 'Ranam' Image Credit: Supplied

Ranam wastes no time. Aadhi (Prithviraj) lying wounded with a gunshot to his chest opens the story. A narration soon takes us into the city of Detroit where he lives. The American city, which had a glorious past as the automotive capital, has now turned into a dangerous city where crime and drugs go hand in hand.

Aadhi, a car mechanic works, in his uncle Bhaskar’s (Nandu) garage. He has also been transporting drugs for Damodar (Rahman) — a Sri Lankan Tamilian — in order to clear his uncle’s debts. Damodar has a new party drug, Redex, and he wants to get a foothold in the region that is controlled by a rival Polish gang.

Aadhi wants to quit working under Damodar and to lead a normal life. So he makes a deal with Damodar that he will work one last time. Will Damodar let go of Aadhi so easily, especially since he is a reliable and efficient transporter? Damodar asks his younger brother Selvam (Ashwin Kumar) to find out what’s the weak link in Aadhi’s life that will make him return to his gang.

Screenwriter Nirmal Sahadev, who wrote the story for romance Hey Jude, turns director with Ranam and explores a completely different genre.

Noir protagonists are often single men, psychologically flawed or wounded. This gangster tale is not an action thriller about Aadhi and Damodar only but an emotional tale of Seema (Isha Talwar) too.

A dancer and a mother to a teenaged daughter, Seema suffers a loveless marriage.

Ranam is about second chances for its characters — be it Damodar ousted from his home in Sri Lanka; Aadhi keen on living a new life; Bhaskar — disillusioned with the American dream longs for a new life for his family; Seema who wishes to bury her past and move on.

After Mumbai Police, Prithviraj and Rahman come together in lead roles. They play the perfect tango, matching step by step with a terrific performance. Rahman is in fine form. His Damodar is menacing in a quiet way; he’s calm and does not deliver loud dialogues, but his short lines mean business.

Prithviraj’s Aadhi wins sympathy. Beneath the tough exterior, there lies a little boy struggling with the demons of childhood. Wearing a countenance that barely smiles but embodies several underlying emotions, Prithviraj is wonderful.

UAE resident Ashwin Kumar, who shot to fame with Jacobinte Swargarajyam once again impresses as Selvam, a hot headed young man.

It’s a mature role for Talwar as her Seema is convincing. Newcomers Celine Joseph as Seema’s daughter is a typical NRI teenager, while Mathew Arun playing Bhaskar’s son and Giju John as Inspector Ahmad are other notable actors.

Jakes Bejoy strikes the right chords with his music, especially the song Pathey.

The narrative of Ranam is emphasised by stylistic, stark shadows and frames that lend a sense of claustrophobia. Cinematographer Jigme Tenzing’s camera plays along leaving you spell bound. Notice the aerial shot after Aadhi gives the police the slip while driving away. A junction of Detroit is bathed in neon lights where three white police patrol cars stand against a backdrop of neatly arranged black cars. That frame is not easily forgotten.

Ranam marks Sahadev as a talent to watch.

Don’t miss it!

Ranam releases in the UAE on September 13.