Revolver Rani review: Kangana Ranaut shines in a disappointing film
The film however, disappoints just as much as it entertains. The ending leaves things open for a possible sequel and one hopes that Revolver Rani returns in the style of The Bride.
Warning: Spoilers ahead
It takes all of fifteen minutes to realise that you are watching a desi version of Kill Bill in Revolver Rani. Its got Quentin Tarantino written all over each and every sequence, the director having broken the film down into just that — a series of well-orchestrated sequences. And in tune with director Sai Kabir's aesthetic inspiration, Revolver Rani exudes Tarantino style pulpy kitsch, much to the amusement of an unsuspecting Indian audience.
The first half is absolutely delightful. Weird would be an understatement to describe just how absurd the film's treatment is. And I mean that as a compliment.
The dialogues are rooted to the setting of the Chambal valley, tapping into a treasure trove of local lingo and humour. Similarly, the music and background score make no pretences to being mainstream and necessarily melodious. Aarti Bajaj's clever editing is in the style of typically B-grade cinema, adding much to the narrative of the film. And the star of the film, Kangana Ranaut, who seems to be having a great year, hits another home run with her performance as the feisty and slightly deranged Alka Singh who is scary, naughty, unabashedly sexual, just and professionally speaking quite a fighter.
She champions the rights of adivasis, fighting opposition party leader Udaybhan Tomar (Zakir Hussain) who she claims took money from a mining company called Siddhanta (obviously referring to Vedanta's dirty politics in Orissa). She falls in love with Rohan (Vir Das) a wannabe hero, and there is a very obvious gender role reversal between the two. She's the one who defends him from local goons who have him tied up just like Hindi film heroines are usually.
She earns the money, pays for his upkeep and even funds a film for him to act in. How many times have we seen heroes do the exact same thing for their girlfriends, never quite the reverse. It is she who exhausts him with her sexual incorrigibility and insatiability and not the other way around. He tries his best to instil romance into their relationship, mouthing all the typical Bollywood dialogues that lovers exchange on screen, but she is far removed from the sanitised world of cinematic love.
"Jawaan hote hee ise bandook chalana sikha dena theek rahegi," she tells a young girl's mother, offering a glimpse into how she survives and thrives in a world dominated by men and patriarchal attitudes.
The film however, disappoints just as much as it entertains. Right before the interval we are told that Alka is pregnant and I sat through the interval wondering whether the film would judge her for her sexual independence and go about taming her in the second half.
My fears were unfortunately confirmed with the rest of the film turning into a sob story about how Alka was forced to pick up a gun even though she really always wanted to be a housewife packing tiffins for her husband. Her errant “dabangg” attitude is corrected by a call to her maternal instincts and she decides to abandon the world of guns and politics because "Baby ko stress ho jaata hai. "
Choosing a better life and love over dirty politics is fine, but why must this only become possible through motherhood? She is the kind of woman who seems to always get what she wants, so why does she wait for a baby she never wanted to finally shape her life in the image of her dreams? It's a rather unexpected and sudden character change that seems to come out of nowhere and therefore remains unexplained throughout.
The story also smacks of sexism at another level. So long as Alka is a slave to her Shakuni-esque Mama's (a very menacing Piyush Mishra) commands, she is hailed as the Queen of the region. But as soon as she starts to assert her own individuality ( no matter how problematic) she is shunned and attacked.
The ending leaves things open for a possible sequel and one hopes that Revolver Rani returns in the style of The Bride to avenge the wrongs done to her. Till then, this part of her story remains a rather failed and half-hearted attempt to make a hero out of a heroine.
Tribeca Film Festival 2021: Pan Nalin’s Last Film Show is an ode to how we interact with cinema as kids
Pan Nalin's Gujarati film is an ode as much to movie-going as to movie-making. He romanticises the 35mm experience but stops short of decrying digitisation as the death of cinema.
Chaos Walking movie review: Tom Holland-Daisy Ridley starrer wastes sci-fi premise on typical survivalist chase plot
Chaos Walking misses a chance to tell a compelling and resonant story in spite of having all the ingredients to do so.
Those Who Wish Me Dead movie review: Angelina Jolie thriller hews to genre clichés, but wins with its setting
Those Who Wish Me Dead has no surprises, aside from why a bunch of A-list actors decided to take up such old wine-old bottle roles, even if Oscar nominee Taylor Sheridan is at the helm.