Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Revolver Rani Movie Review : Experimental, brave but flawed

Revolver Rani is a hard film to judge and critique. It is a black comedy, and a sly one at that. It is an audacious and ambitious attempt. It is also marginally regressive at times. It is a slushy ode to Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill series, not that those were classics either. It is the feminine version of a diatribe of Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur, in layman terms. It is a lot of things. But then, it is nothing like what its trailer promised it to be. Revolver Rani delves much deeper, darker and quirkier than a plain badass female dacoit beating up goons story. Yet in those finer reserves, it loses itself somewhere and leaves you confused. It must be lauded, but alas, it cannot be archived even if all of ye Kangana fans may have wanted to, specially after the release of Queen. 

Kangana Ranaut is Alka Singh, aka Revolver Rani, who is a psychotic, hard-headed feared dacoit in the Chambal valley of Madhya Pradesh. She is also a leader and politician in the Gwalior area, vying for the prestigious MLA seat or whatever. She defines wacky, irresistibly, from her sex life to her public shootouts to her clothes, which are imported specially from Italy. Her opponents are more laughable than villainous, while her toy boy boyfriend is a back-stabbing plundering aspiring actor Rohan Kapoor (Vir Das). Amidst the louche pack of men surrounding her is her well-meaning Balli Mama (Piyush Mishra) whose only fault is that he cannot sacrifice his hard-earned power for anything. Like her Rani from Queen, Kangana's Alka is also a woman in search of her own identity. Putting a cape on her murky past, she rages ahead  by the power of her gun. She wants to live like a normal girl, wishes to become fair, beautiful, have a family and drop the 'infertile' tag slammed on her face. But then this is a world where you have no one to cheer for, as everyone is bad and conniving. 

First time director Sai Kabir sets up architects a fresh interesting character in Alka with much alacrity. He also adopts a stunningly farcical tone in Alka's journey, playing on standard tropes of betrayals, double-crossings, masochistic goons, cheating politicians and media intrusions. But somewhere, his plot gets fragmented with no character-centric approach to the story. Alka's desire to clean up her act looks half-baked as the focus keeps meandering across various themes. In a certain sense, Revolver Rani is a very experimental film but its divisive screenplay shortchanges its audience. The trailer of the film promised much more fun while exploring the black layers that it does. The phan, phasion and gun is fun, but in bits of inspired moments, such as the one when Alka gets arrested, the one when she catches Rohan sneaking back into the house, the one where Balli mama conjures up Alka's marriage story. But none of this makes up for the whole, as a lot of whim is injected in an injudicious attempt.

Produced by Crouching Tiger Motion Pictures, Tigmanshu Dhulia and a couple of others, and presented by Wave Cinemas, Revolver Rani delivers a solid punch of hinterland cinema on a modest budget. Sanjeev Shrivastava's music churns out only a memorable title track. Suhas Gujrati's cinematography is decent, while a special mention for Rohit Nag for putting together a delectable cast. Sai Kabir's dialogues range from a riot to the trite. 

As the name goes, Revolver Rani belongs to Kangana Ranaut and she owns it well too. Post Queen, this one affirm her stature as the most versatile current actress of the Indian film industry. Gormless and crude, Kangana's Alka Singh is a cartoonishly fearsome character, a sharp turnaround from her previous Rani. And she stands tall, like a monumental giant with her performance. Capturing the strife and the inner desire of Alka, as well as her blithe and candor is an uphill task which she achieves. I cannot think of any actor in the film industry who would agree to play a spineless hero, but Vir Das is an exception. As Rohan, he experiments with his own capacities and must be credited for that. Piyush Mishra is first rate as Balli Mama once again. Zakir Hussan does well while the immensely talented Syed Zeeshan Quadri is wasted in an inconsequential role as Pilot. But the real show stealer is Mishkka Singh as an over-enthusiastic, ludicrously hilarious news reporter Payal Parihar from Sajag Samachar. 

On the whole, Revolver Rani may not appeal to a wide range of audience due to its unpersuasive plot and various dark indulgences. It does shine at many moments and worked for me, but I could not overlook the fact that it gets scattered all over the place. It has taken a decent start at the Box Office but one should not expect any success like Queen. Needless to say, Kangana Ranaut is in top form and could whisk away the well-written roles of many other actresses in the days to come. Vir Das, you always had my respect, and it continues to grow. The makers have been brave and that is always appreciable.  I will not urge that this is a film you should not miss, but considering the other options playing at the theaters, you might as well give this experiment a chance. If not for its leading lady!

Rating - 2.5/5

Originally published for MadAboutMoviez here

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