Director: Sai Kabir
Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Vir Das, Piyush Mishra, Zakir Hussain, Zeishan Quadri, Kumud Mishra, Pankaj Saraswat
Rating: * 1/2
In the life of a Bollywood leading lady, a month can be a long time. In Queen, Kangana Ranauts Rani was a west Delhi ingnue plunged into a quest to find herself. In Revolver Rani, Ranaut does a 360 degree in terms of look: she is a rebel, wearing outlandish Turkish pants and jackets and dark glasses and a dark tan. She is also a woman, and she is also, in her own twisted way, in search of herself.
But the difference between the two films is crucial: the Rani in Queen won our hearts because she was believable every inch of the way. This Rani, who hefts revolvers and shoots to kill, is neither wholly a cartoon figure, nor completely credible. This confusion makes us stop suspending disbelief, and Revolver Rani becomes a tiresome Bollywoodesque trudge through the Chambal, and its men and one woman posturing with guns, and the standard corrupt netas and complicit cops.
Alka Singh (Ranaut) is a hard-headed, flint-eyed woman with a dark past. With the help of her beloved mama, Balli (Mishra), she is being positioned to become the leader of the Bhind-Morena-Gwalior area in Madhya Pradesh. Her rival Udaybhan Tomar (Hussain) has only one aim: to find a weak spot in her arsenal, which appears in the shape of her toyboy (Das), whose only desire is to make it big
There are a few parts of the film that come together, where you can see the dark satirical edges, and what the debutant director (who has worked with Tigmanshu Dhulia, who, in turn, has produced the film) was aiming for in sending up stereotypes. Especially in the way a newsreader acts as a sutradhar, her comments becoming increasingly frenzied. Thats nicely done. Some of the shoot-outs are also a hoot, particularly when you really cant make out the difference between the lawmakers and the lawbreakers.
But the high farcical tone that this film should have been made in keeps dipping. And thats because the heroine who is meant to be the hero (nice subversive trick, pity it doesnt work) keeps wanting to become earnest. It is clear that Ranaut is trying hard for the sur, but this is not her territory: she gets to that well-judged manic edge only a couple of times, and then slides back. Her hold on the character is slippery, as is her accent, and the shade of her tan.
Theres also something dislikeable about the way the word baanjh is used in the film, and how the connection between being a complete woman and being able to carry a baby in the womb is made. The prospect of motherhood changing a woman has some credence, but it needs to be done minus crudity. Ultimately, Ranaut flinging herself over a jeep, grimacing and firing up a storm becomes as much of a stretch as the one who switches to clutching a soft furry toy, and becoming starry-eyed about marriage and baby.
This Chambal ki Rani is not for Ranaut. Rajouri wins hands down.