Saturday, April 26, 2014


Release date:
April 25, 2014
Sai Kabir Shrivastav


Kangna Ranaut, Vir Das, Piyush Mishra, Zakir Hussain

What does a hard-core carnivore do when deprived of meat to tear into with its canines? I haven’t a clue. But I can tell you what a good actress does when deprived of a well-written role to sink her teeth into. In Kangna Ranaut’s case, she tries her darnedest best and ends up being a skeleton of a character, seething with potential for the well-fleshed-out person she might have played instead. That, in a nutshell, is the primary problem with Ranaut’s latest film.

Revolver Rani is set in Madhya Pradesh where an evil female don called Alka Singh (Ranaut) has just lost an election in Gwalior to Udaybhan Singh a.k.a. Bhanu Bhaiyya (Zakir Husain). She openly accuses him of taking a Rs 200 crore bribe from the evil Siddhantha Group of industries to evict poor tribals from their land. In a bid to finish her off, Bhanu decides to target her Achilles heel, her boyfriend the Bollywood star Rohan (Vir Das).

The film features chases and shootouts galore, abductions and seductions, kitschy sets, searing barbs directed at the news media and netas, a forced circumcision, and numerous standalone entertaining elements begging to be strung together impactfully into a cohesive, hard-hitting whole. Sadly, writer-director Sai Kabir Shrivastav seems not to have the chops to hold it all together, and what we get is a shadow of what-might-have-been.

Imagine the potential of a story in which Alka meets Rohan at a male beauty contest in Gwalior sponsored by an undie brand, with banners screaming Crazy Underwear Chambal Dud (they mean “dude”) No. 1. Imagine what could have been done with scenes in which the country bumpkin Alka reveals her own studded crazy underwear purchased from Bhainiss in Italy. There are plenty of hilarious or potentially hilarious scenes in Revolver Rani: the dialogues soaked in local lingo are unrelentingly amusing; a TV anchor plays a sort of sutradhar, spouting bad poetry, distorted film lyrics and dialogues to fit every news situation; Ranaut herself sustains a killer accent whenever she speaks English; and two sidey buffoon politicians with a boiling hatred for Alka had me guffawing every time they opened their mouths. Problem is that each of the main characters – Alka’s in particular – ends up feeling like a cardboard cutout rather than a real flesh-and-blood person, like a neat one-line concept that the writer failed to effectively expand. Alka is neither an all-out caricature of a female gangster nor is she all-out menacing nor is she a smooth blend of both.

Despite the film’s indifferent writing, even in its present form it’s likely to have been far more effective if it weren’t for the terrible sound design. There is no clarity in the speaking or singing voices here. Sound effects, songs and background score have all been allowed to clash throughout. In fact, the entire film seems to feature weak sounds crowded together.

I’ve seen hundreds of films at the multiplex where I watched Revolver Rani, but still, to confirm that the complex’s usually stable sound system had not taken a vacation on this particular day and to confirm that I wasn’t imagining RR’s audio issues, I stayed back to watch another film in the same hall within that multiplex immediately after my show of Revolver Rani. That second film was perfectly okay, so the problem must lie with RR alone.

Ranaut is still soaking in the universal praise for her performance in Vikas Bahl’s Queen. Her Alka in Revolver Rani is proof that even the best actors are only as good as the directors and writers they work with. She gets the swagger and the rest of the body language right, though in the absence of writing heft, after a while it feels like she’s posing around for still photographs rather than inhabiting a role. She’s well-suited to the film’s larger-than-life action scenes of the sort usually given only to male stars. Her eccentric wardrobe complements the package. She hits the bull’s eye with her dialogue delivery, especially of those baby-ko-tension-hoga lines about which I won’t reveal anything further here. By the end of the film though, I knew nothing about her beyond what I had learnt at the start: that her hard exterior belies the softness inside. Besides, the film’s impact is diluted by the manner in which it keeps straying away from her, especially in the second half.

The usually brilliant Piyush Mishra plays Alka’s mentor, Balli Mama, about whom we get to know little despite the considerable screen time given to him. Vir Das has his moments as Rohan, most especially in a scene in which he’s mock dancing while trying to talk to her, but those moments are few and far between. Besides, it’s never clear how Alka is so blind to his open disinterest, even revulsion towards her.

Considering that the film is clearly positioning itself as a sort of feminist farce taking apart the usually-male-dominated underworld genre, it’s disappointing to see it then succumb to stereotypical notions of how motherhood impacts a woman. Worse, it turns out that this hard-nosed, hard-headed gangsta chick estimates her entire self-worth on her inability to have babies. This is not to say that a woman in real life won’t be pained at the social derision aimed at her for being a “baanjh”, that crude Hindi word for a childless woman. Problem is that there is not a single voice in this film to pooh-pooh these clichés!

Revolver Rani is co-produced by Tigmanshu Dhulia, director of Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster and Paan Singh Tomar. Wish Dhulia had taken Sai Kabir’s basic concept, but chosen to script and direct this film himself. As things stand, Revolver Rani has many wonderful moments and ideas, but as a whole it’s neither satirical enough nor farcical enough nor intense enough nor thrilling enough to be what it seems to want to be. It’s not the cracker of a film that it could have been. Despite all its pluses, what it ends up being instead, is a damb squib.

Rating (out of five stars): **1/2

CBFC Rating (India):

Running time:
133 minutes

Visuals courtesy: Effective Communication, Raindrop Media

1 comment:

  1. Story is average, but acting by kangana Ranaut and Piyush mishra was genuine, Piyush Mishra's character reminds me of a Chankya's chants Gangadhar mishra.... Background score used fits to the scene perfectly....... you can't stop laughing at one liners..... And those Brassier from benice (Venice).... a good movie to watch...