Ranarangam movie review: Sharwanand, Kalyani Priyadarshan’s crime drama is predictable and boring
Ranarangam is an ode to The Godfather - 2; however, it squanders every opportunity to tell an interesting story.
The most thrilling aspect of Sharwanand-starrer Ranarangam is its title, and the circumstances which push a common guy to become a gangster. However, the film does not do justice to both its name or the setting. Ranarangam is so bland, despite some fair amount of bloodshed, that it does not even make you root for the hero to win the battle. But then, you begin to wonder, what is the battle that the hero has to fight? Is it to become the most powerful man in Vizag? Or is it become the messiah of the masses, and become a Godfather to those who see him as a saviour? Whatever it is, the stakes never seem high enough in Ranarangam. It just squanders every opportunity that it comes across to tell an intriguing story.
The story focuses on the life of Deva (Sharwanand), a gangster living in Spain. However, he controls everything in India, right from what is shipped to the ports across India to the lands in Vizag, where several villages treat him as their saviour. Before he turned a gangster, we are told that Deva and his gang of friends used to sell black tickets in Vizag before they got into the illegal liquor business in the mid-'90s. This is at the height of the prohibition era and the demand for liquor was sky high all over Vizag. Instead of selling movie tickets in black, Deva decides that he is better off selling liquor, smuggled from Orissa, illegally in and around Vizag. But he faces a strong opposition from a local MLA Simhachalam (Murali Sharma). The rest of the story is about Deva beats several odds to become a gangster, and what happens long after he moves to Spain to start a new life.
Ranarangam flip-flops between the past (mid-'90s) and the present to give us a taste of how Deva’s life changed dramatically over the years. In the mid-'90s, he was content with whatever he was earning with the sale of movie tickets, but cut to the present, he is a gangster, with his own mansion and security in Spain. A commoner from Vizag goes on to become so powerful that even a cabinet minister is scared of his influence. This dichotomy is interesting, but the journey from one state to another is far from being a compelling experience. There is barely anything in the story to hang on to, and this problem is compounded because of a series of decisions, right from the casting to the writing.
There are numerous issues which plague the film right from the beginning. Deva, as a character, is not strong enough to evoke a sense of awe when we witness his rise in the corridors of power. His love story with Geetha (Kalyani Priyadarshan) might seem cute, since it is set in the ‘90s milieu, but it is too cliched to merit a second thought. Neither Sharwanand nor Kalyani get a chance to expand on what is written for them on paper, and they end up merely spouting one line after another. The narrative is particularly problematic when the story shifts to the present-day in Spain. For all the power that Deva wields, he is not an enigmatic character. Moreover, Kajal Aggarwal, who plays a doctor, barely has a substantial role. And the less we talk about the supporting characters, the better it is. Ranarangam is a missed opportunity, and a big disappointment and how!
Amidst all this, cinematographer Divakar Mani gives us at least something to focus on. The colour palette, especially in the portions set in Vizag, is beautifully used. He fills some life into the frame, which is devoid of solid writing. Music director Prashant Pillai makes an earnest attempt to elevate the storytelling, but the burden is too much on him to carry dead weight. Sudheer Varma, whose previous credits include Swamy Ra Ra and Keshava, tries to turn Ranarangam into The Godfather unfolding in the streets of Vizag and Spain. However, his Deva is no Michael Corleone. The problem with the film is not how slowly it unfolds but how pointless the whole drama seems.
Ranarangam gets quite predictable after a point, but even that pales in comparison to its bigger crime: it is boring. In the world of a crime dramas, that is probably worse than death.
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