Directed by Shashidhar Challakere / Reviewed by Adva Reichman
If you want to be moved by a film, Ragpicker Ramaiah is the one you should watch.This beautiful story follows a man’s journey to be seen as more than just the title his occupation gives him. But more than that, the story revolves around a father- daughter relationship and shows us the struggles they each endure in their own lives, while learning how to be there for each other.
The father, Ramaiah, played by the gifted Mime Ramesh,works as a ragpicker. As the film begins we understand the problematic status of doing such work for a living. The director wishes to change our minds and reveal the face and story of the man behind the job. He humanizes the title and shatters the misconception.
The viewers embark on a journey and see Ramaiah’s humanity and beautiful soul. He is not a saint nor a perfect man, but he is one to be honored. His kindness leads his every action and you can’t help but fall in love with his good heart.
Through flashbacks we learn about Ramaiah’s drinking problem, and how his late wife was worried he won’t be able to be the father their daughter, Kamala, deserves.Since her own health was deteriorating, she tried to get through to him, hoping to leave this world knowing they will be okay.
Kamala, played by the talented Sukruthi Priya P, is a young woman adjusting to womanhood and learning about the world. Frustrated, she misses her mom and is in dire need of a woman figure, as she finds herself having more questions than answers. She finds a way to obtain the textbook information, but her emotional concerns requires a different kind of aid.
Throughout the film we get to see the father-daughter relationship evolve, as the two of them learn from each other but also teach one another.
Ramaiah works hard on meeting his daughter’s needs and on proving to her that his job shouldn’t shame them. We learn how difficult and dangerous being a ragpicker is in India, but Ramaiah stays true to who he is, and his gentle spirit touches the ones around him.
The people in his life learn and understand the importance of what he does and find ways to include him in their society while making sure he can provide for his family.
Although the English subtitles could have been better, the Ragpicker reminded me of how much I enjoy seeing other parts of the world through a new set of eyes. The director, Shashidhar, did a beautiful job with bringing his culture to life. The vitality, the scenery and the nuances were fascinating, and I remained intrigued throughout the film.
Costumes were also brilliantly used. As one’s clothing suggests their wealth and status, Ramaiah made it his point to look dashing, even though his job involves trash. It is through that,that we see how a man perceives himself and tells others to perceive him as well. This ties beautifully to the words the director chose to end the film with – “Life as we receive it. Living as we find it”. We cannot control everything, but we can choose how to go about it. Ramaiah’s story is here to show us just that.
Another major contribution was the score that beautifully escorted the film. Ananth Aryan’s alluring melody gradually sets in a compelling rhythm. Ramaiah found the respect he searched for in his job.As he takes pride and shows others his true colors, the score accompanies him and amplifies his essence.
As his daughter graduates top of her class, we’re reminded yet again that when you come from nothing, anything is possible. But the greater lesson here is that it’s not your education that turns you into ‘someone’, but rather the person that you really are. Ragpicker Ramaiah embodies just that.