Rangrezz works despite being saddled with a rather cliched plot, writes Ankur Pathak.
Rangrezz (remake of Tamil hit Naadodigal), which in Hindi means the person who dyes clothes (the symbolic meaning being someone who adds color to life), is a powerful film about three seemingly aimless youngsters living in the chawls of Mumbai, who are blinded by the idea of friendship, and see nothing wrong in risking their lives in the name of friendship.
Their humble background has probably rendered them with large hearts, but not-so-large ambitions as their idea of a better future is restricted to securing middle-class jobs.
Jackky Bhagnani’s Rishi leads the trio preoccupied with careless abandon of youth; and decides on a whim to help a young lad from Lalitpur elope with his girlfriend, even as their politically affluent families vehemently oppose the match.
Rishi's two friends don't even know who they are risking their lives for but it doesn’t matter. They are not only determined, but have strong notions that love shouldn’t suffer at any cost.
Ostensibly, it's the classic rebel-without-a-cause situation, but when you have someone like Priyadarshan calling the shots, expect fireworks. The explosions may not ring as loud as they are expected to but the director does pretty well with a plot that is rather clichéd and over-abused.
Using the runaway bride set-up as a determining tool of undying friendship (one loses a limb, the other suffers from impaired hearing), Priyadarshan creates a landscape of intense conflict where he then carefully places themes of youthful delinquency, unaccountable betrayal, and most of all the complex mechanism of Indian marriages.
The three actors: Jackky Bhagnani, Vijay Verma and Amitosh Nagpal perform with remarkable efficiency. Bhagnnani’s improvement from where he started out is terrific in terms of the confidence he shows as an actor but he really needs to work on his screen presence.
The other two actors, especially Vijay Verma who plays Pakkya is unbelievably spot-on as the roadside youth who cracks one fiery one-liner after another with the perfect accent and impeccable timing. Priya Anand who plays Bhagnani’s love interest is slightly annoying.
The supporting cast also performs exceptionally well (particularly Pankaj Tripathi and Lushin Dubey as warring politicians), and that kind of keeps us engaged despite the film’s rather shaky premise.
In what can be termed as Rajpal Yadav’s comeback, the actor rocks the screen with enormous doses of comic relief.
The joy of Rangrezz is also in the details it captures, thanks to the ever-reliable Santosh Sivan who photographs the film with a gritty sophistication while the production-designers create a convincing world of the struggling middle-class; the constant focus on the Bandra-Worli sea-link metaphorically representing aspirations of a prosperous life ahead.
What’s sweeping is the vibrant urgency with which the camera detains some of the movie’s crucial scenes. The exaggerated background score compliments the swift camera movements, but somewhere the Singham-esque violence doesn’t fit in.
Rangrezz is a powerful social drama that brims with the urgency of the young and the audacious. Its ideology may be deeply flawed but perhaps that’s the point the film is trying to make: being clueless; and often misguided while being young is probably the right way towards self-discovery.