Friday, January 2, 2015

Movie Review: Revolver Rani

The only thing more infuriating than a film with no redeeming qualities, is a film that has an interesting concept but wastes its potential. Revolver Rani falls smack down in the middle of the latter territory. Directed by Sai Kabir with a ton of honesty but lack of confidence, Revolver Rani renders one singular thought throughout its runtime — what a frustrating little movie. The film has the kickass concept and story idea of a gun trotting female daaku in the badlands of Gwalior. Now instead of using that premise to elevate the film to something entertaining, Revolver Rani jams, fails to fire and burns its own hand like a faulty tamancha.

It has hints of pulp, a dash of slapstick, a helping of noir, some serious drama, shootouts. But the pulp is not pulpy enough, the comedy is not funny, the action is lame, and our heroine Rani, played by the wonderful Kangana Ranaut has nothing to do except overcompensate for the film’s half-baked nature. The story is straight from the 80’s – Alka Singh aka Revolver Rani is a goonda political honcho up against a gang of other goonda political honchos who want to get rid of her. So far so good, and with the flashy graphic novel style opening credits and the first half hour the film feels quirky fun. The goons are all good actors (Zakir Hussain and co), and Vir Das (although spectacularly miscast) shows up as a scummy wannabe actor in a hilarious reality show for Alka.

At this point it seems like the film would parody the 80’s. You wait for the pulp mode to kick in, and the film just screeches to a halt. As was the case with many other recent Hindi films Revolver Rani instead of parodying the 80’s, becomes an 80’s film. Sadly Ranaut is just a tanned mélange of her characters in Queen and Wo Lamhe, and Vir Das spends the entire film sitting around clueless. After the first hour you’re left wondering why the comedic shooting and killing has stopped to make way for a domestic drama. By the second half the film gives up altogether and proceeds to rip off Kill Bill, including the siren music cue and the close up shots of the eye.

I’m not sure what the filmmakers were trying to achieve, because if it’s supposed to be homage it’s not a very good one. And if they’d decided to simply remake or parody Kill Bill they should have just done it wholeheartedly instead of tinkering around the edges. The one consistently funny bit in Revolver Rani is a running gag where an India TV style news reporter (Mishkka Singh) pops up and passionately covers the events of Alka’s love life. Those segments seem like they belong in a different movie because they’re so well written and acted. Nothing in the remainder of the film has any footing or sense of coherence. Despite Aarti Bajaj’s presence the editing is all over the place, with actors doing entry-exit, and scenes going on for too long. The rest of the technical stuff is just as awful, with truly ugly stunt rope special effects and the music heavily borrowing from The Place Beyond the Pines. It clearly seems like the film faced some last minute post-production changes and the final product is a hurried mess.

Revolver Rani is produced by the same people who made Bullet Raja. It is set in similar timelines and settings, and has the exact same problems that Raja did. What a waste of cinematic resources. If both the films had been good we could have seen an Avengers style crossover film with Raja and Rani. If someone who actually understands pulp attempts to give it a second shot, I’d gladly watch.

(First published in firstpost)

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