Ranarangam movie cast: Sharwanand, Kajal Aggarwal, Kalyani Priyadarshan
Ranarangam movie director: Sudheer Varma
Ranarangam movie rating: 2 stars
Sudheer Varma opens his new film Ranarangam (Battle Field) with a quote: Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy. The dialogue was made popular by director David Fincher’s Fight Club, which is based on Chuck Palahniuk’s novel of the same name. The iconic quote has a different meaning in the context of the protagonist’s existential crisis. Sudheer, however, uses the quote to justify his open inclination to borrow ideas from past movies. That said, it doesn’t make Sudheer a postmodernist like Quentin Tarantino. He is just a wannabe Tarantino sans strong-will to push boundaries of genres.
Sudheer said he took inspiration from Francis Ford Coppola’s classic Godfather to write Ranarangam. Unlike Coppola’s Corleones, Sudheer’s Deva (Sharwanand) doesn’t come with any ethnic markings. He is just a low-life petty outlaw who seeks out a living by selling tickets of blockbuster films in black in Visakhapatnam.
In 1995, then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister NT Rama Rao imposes a ban on liquor creating a black market for alcohol. Deva and his friends see an opportunity and begin to smuggle liquor into the state from the neighbouring state of Orissa. And in no time, Deva and gang start minting big money. Their success story draws the attention of the textbook villain, played by Murali Sharma. And the conflict over territory begins to claim human lives. The narration goes back and forth in time. Because messing up with time would invariably make the director look clever.
The origin story of Deva is set in the 1990s Visakhapatnam and the present story unfolds in Spain. Deva has grown old and his fashion sense has grown by leaps and bounds since his time in the port city of Andhra Pradesh. Once the non-linear pattern is established, it is easy for the audience to understand and keep track of the narration. And yet, Sudheer finds it is necessary to prompt the audience by using visual cues like “past” and “present.” Why so much spoon-feeding, Sudheer?
Deva cuts a very stereotypical image of a don. He is a watered-down version of Sakthivel (from Mani Ratnam’s Nayakan), who becomes a criminal because of his surroundings. He also has a moral obligation to fend off greedy vultures that try to encroach upon the slums he grew up in. Like all powerful international dons of Bollywood cinema, he remotely operates from a beach-facing bungalow in an exotic location. And all the show leads to the obvious ending that is something we knew would happen after the first 30 minutes of the movie.
Gucci sunglasses, Rolex watches, slow-motion shots, expensive cars, swanky homes and all other things can’t salvage this wafer-thin script.