Thursday, July 30, 2009

Rangeela, or, Joint Review!

The Heroine.

The Hero.

Hindustan Ka Hero.

Welcome to my very first joint review, done with Sanket from Doc Bollywood. He can offer you a far more well-rounded review, with a special (and better-informed) take on the music and his memories of this film, so be sure to check out his post!

Judging from the comments on my Speedos post, everybody else but me knew going in that Rangeela was going to be both awful and wonderful. Awful because 1995 in Mumbai was a time of terrible fashion and also cringe-worthy movies for the most part, with the exception of DDLJ and this film from what I can tell. (And if you know better, leave a comment so I can admit my error!) Wonderful because of A.R. Rahman and Aamir, although Urmila Matondkar and Jackie Shroff do their parts very well too. Oh yeah, and Ram Gopal Verma (RGV) directed it. I think I need to buy this movie. And I think I'd better hide the Visa statement from my husband when I do.

Mili Joshi (Urmila) is a member of a Mumbai dance troupe who dreams of breaking into films as a heroine. For now, though, she's stuck dancing behind the heroine, watching and learning while waiting for her chance to shine. The film she's working on stars action hero Raj Kamal (Jackie), who shows up, does his job, and goes home without any offscreen dramatics. (Shefali Shetty plays the spoiled heroine, which I think is hilarious since she usually sticks to non-mainstream fare in real life.)

Every evening, Mili goes home to her middle-class family, which consists of her ma (Reema Lagoo! Yay!), pa, younger brother, and Munna (Aamir), an orphan who scalps tickets for a living and has been absorbed into the Joshi's circle.

Munna and Mili are best friends, by which I mean they fight like siblings but love each other unconditionally. Well, maybe Munna more than Mili, because as he confesses to his best friend Pakya (Rajesh Joshi) not long into the movie, he's in love with his other best friend. Mili's feelings remain unclear for the duration of the film.

What makes them even more unclear is this: Raj finds Mili practicing her dance moves on the beach (with way too many shots of her butt swaying in Spandex--way too many for those of us not attracted to women, thanks RGV for that) and promptly recruits her for the role of heroine in the film they're both working on. After some rehearsal with Munna, Mili aces her screen test and begins working in earnest. But in her rush to stardom, will she leave Munna behind? And what about Raj's growing feelings towards her?

I actually really like this movie, but let me list some of the problems I had with it before getting to the good stuff. One, the picturizations. There were way too many. I get that this is a classic soundtrack and, man do I love it. But some of those tracks would have served to overlay action rather than take a time out from it, especially since a lot of the choreography consisted of Urmila doing her best impression of a drunk tabletop-dancer. Plus, they serve to artificially prolong the question of Mili's feelings for Raj, which I just found irritating. I mean, she couldn't even remember to drop the "-ji" off of his name; when they weren't hanging all over each other for the movie-in-the-movie's picturizations the outcome was clear, which means the screenplay needed work.

Two, Urmila's lack of undergarments. RGV, you perverted man, I don't need to see her bosom threatening to smack her in the chin while she runs in place wearing only a bathing suit. Yuck.

Three, the Speedo. The Speedo. THE SPEEDO. Hold on, I just have to swallow the bilge. Okay. I'm all right now.

As far as the rest of the film goes, however, it rocks. Urmila's adorable as Mili; she's totally believable as a girl who's driven out of her depth but still keeps a level head. I thought her relationship with Munna was very well done and also believable.

Which brings me to Aamir, who's totally wicked awesome as Munna (although the fishnet tank made me want to ask if he'd swallowed any hooks lately). By turns cocky, vulnerable, angry, and longing, he totally made me lose my dil and apparently my mind as well since I'm going to purchase this movie despite the Speedo just so I can see him in it.

I also really liked Jackie's performance. He was very sweet as a guy who thought he was past all that mushy stuff and is captivated by Mili's innocent charms despite himself. Plus, Rajesh Joshi was great as Pakya. A lot of times the onscreen friends of big Hindi stars' characters are just as in awe of the character as offscreen people would be of the actor, which really rings false. Pakya treats Munna as an equal, and I appreciated that. And he's darned funny.

There are also minor characters who show that the film business is the same everywhere: the stage mom, the director who's convinced his only true competition is Coppola and Spielberg, the diva heroine, the slimy producer... They're all here, and they all ring true.

Some of the cinematography is great, as you can see from my last screencap. But! I'd be remiss not to mention Rahman's absolutely fabulous soundtrack for the film. It was his first written specifically for a Hindi film and it rocks, especially "Hai Rama." Mehboob's lyrics are fantastic too; here's the translation. I've put together a playlist for you to enjoy (just close your eyes during any beach moments, you'll thank me for the warning), but be sure and watch the movie if you're one of the two other Hindi film fans who hasn't seen it yet. It's worth every penny.


  1. Cool joint review! And thanks Ajnabi for the link! Agreed on your issues with some of the songs. I love 'Yaaron Sun Lo Zara' for establishing the space Munna and Mili occupy. Hope you enjoyed the magic couch ride sequence in 'Mangta Hai Kya' as much as I did! :)

    'Taporis' like Munna (and dressed exactly as Munna is) who occupy the streets of Bombay are as embedded in the culture of the city as anyone else, and there are so many bits to appreciate of their portrayal here. From the scene outside the theater, to the one in the yellow suit which screams inferiority complex, and the one in which he confides in Pakya, with subtle commentary on perspectives of masculinity. So many more.

    If you liked Aamir here, I must recommend Ghulam (1998), which also made Rani a household name. Aamir in Ghulam starts from where he left off here, but there he decides to do something about his standing instead of being content in being ordinary. I think you'll enjoy it, although it has much less comedy than this and a lot more action.


  2. Oh! I love this film so much!!!!!!!! This has made me really want a re-watch... :)

    While I don't find Urmila's spandex offensive - the speedo... *bleaches inside of brain from the memory*

    I love the soundtrack but I agree about the fact that there are far too many Jackie and Urmila picturizations and I wonder if that didn't have something to do with the fact that Jackie Shroff WAS an established hero at the time and whether he might have insisted on having as many songs as Aamir or something.

    And speaking of Aamir... *hugs Munna* His tapori is one of my favorite characters in any Bollywood film of all time. What a sweetie! I always die during that scene in the hotel where he is trying SO HARD to impress Mili...

  3. I really enjoyed Rangeela a lot, thanks to Aamir's tapori-baazi! LOL! He was damn entertaining, wasn't he? Urmila was great too.

    RGV was so obsessed with her in those days and now it's Nisha Kothari. What did he find so special in Nisha! That's beyond my understanding.

    Anyway, Rahman's music is fantabulous here. My favourite is the seduction song..Hai Rama. Great beats, excellent singing and brilliant lyrics! Fun soundtrack.

    Thanks for the review..I'll make sure I re-watch Rangeela tomorrow! ;-)

  4. This movie is sitting in my pvr just waiting for me. Still have to check out Doc Bollywood's contribution, but I think I may have been inspired to watch it soon!!! I'm sure I will be forever indebted to you for the speedo warning!

  5. Not seen yet but for me,Rangeela is a quote from an absolutsweetcutie little girl in a certain movie ;-)

  6. I've been coming across references to this movie all over the place, so it's destiny. Must get it higher up the wish list! And I agree: nobody else has warned me about the Speedos and the Spandex, so at least I can be psychologically prepared. Never doubt that you are providing valuable service to your readers! :)

  7. RGV is SUCH a perv. I liked his "Daud" (with Urmila and Sanjay Dutt) but his lingering Urmila-butt shots got in the way just like they did here.

    But Aamir is so cute, and I like Jackie Shroff in most everything I've seen him in (in films, that is---but what is he thinking when he steps out of the house most days???); would be nice to see him in something again.

  8. This was such a fun movie. Aamir was awesome here - especially in the scenes where he is trying to impress Urmila with his sophistication!

    I watched this back in the day with a lot of university friends, one of whom remarked that Jackie Shroff had touched the peak of buddhapa (old-age) (we were all somewhat creeped out by Jackie-Urmila's "love" scenes) in this film.

    Your review reminds me that I need to rewatch this - with judicious use of a fast forward button, of course!

  9. I thought I posted but didn't. Overall, I did like Rangeela a lot. I do agree with everything you said :)

  10. Aamir Khan is too good. This is my first time reading this blog and it is pretty cool. I would greatly appreciate it if you could please check out my blog as well. It is fairly new and I am trying to spread the word around it. Please visit and comment/follow. Thanks so much!

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  11. ooh and totally looking forward to Kaminey!!

  12. Damn right you love Reema Lagoo! <3

    I disagree about the disconnection the picturizations create. That's one of the things I love about 90s masala: they constantly interrupt the movie to include catchy songs with nice visuals, just to make sure the movie has extra pretteh. ("Nimbooda," anybody?) Then again, 90s masala is my life, so my opinion on the matter rarely counts. ;)

    If you want to see another good movie from 1995, try Coolie No. 1, Akele Hum Akele Tum (which I haven't watched yet, but it's got great reviews), or Guddu (your opinion of which will depend on what you like).

  13. tBF: I had no idea Munna's clothing was authentic! See, this is why I blog--I learn so much. I just assumed it was because the whole movie was fashion-awful. LOL And, yeah, the magic couch ride was fan-freakin'-tastic.

    I think you posted about Ghulam a while back. After I read your comment I went to add it to my queue only to discover it was already there!

    Filmi Girl: I thought it was pretty gutsy of Jackie to agree to the role, since basically it was an onscreen admission of being too old to win a gorgeous young thing's heart. I love when he's laughing over Munna and Mili arguing--you can see the realization dawning over the heartbreak. If he did insist on the picturizations then I can see why, yk? Still, gah. At least one should've hit the floor. Oh, and poor Munna in the hotel. I watched that scene from behind my hands. So awful for him, poor guy.

    Bhargav: Yes, Aamir won my heart in this movie! It's the first one I've seen in which he totally caught my attention. So entertaining, and SUCH a great soundtrack; I couldn't agree with you more about "Hai Rama."

    Shell: It's a public service announcement. The Speedo thing. It should be accompanied by a really loud repeating beep too but I haven't figured out how to get that on my blog yet.

    Anonymous: I know! In fact the charades game was the reason I added the movie to my viewing list in the first place. LOL

    Anarchivist: thank you, I live to serve. ;-) I hope you post about it once you have the chance to watch!

    Memsaab: Perv is right. I kept on wanting to call him Ram Gopal Vermin. Yech. Aamir and Jackie were both adorable, I agree with you. I like Jackie! But the poor man *does* need a stylist, and how.

    Bollyviewer: a ff button is a must, IMO. But Aamir plus Urmi makes it all worthwhile!

    Nicki: why thank you! How often does that happen? LOL

    Bollywood Rocks: Thanks for visiting! I'll definitely check out your blog. :-) And OH MY GOSH I cannot wait for Kaminey either. Except I'll have to.

    Nae: Reema Lagoo! She ties with Farida Jalal as Favorite Filmi Maa. I think "Nimbooda" might be an exception to the rule you stated, since even though it is FLAT OUT GORGEOUS it also advances the plot, showing Vanraj falling in love with Nandini while she's singing about the man *she's* in love with while he demonstrates his true self by sulking in his room like a pubescent boy. But mostly pretty, yes. LOL I don't think I would object so much if it was just one, or even two, but it's three songs, yk? But then again it was the days before DVDs and it wasn't like RGV could just release deleted scenes. Hm. I have AHAT in my queue but hadn't heard of Coolie No. 1, so thanks for that rec!


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