Review: Rann packs in powerful performances
Review: Rann packs in powerful performances
By: Sonia Chopra
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Wednesday 27 January 2010
Ram Gopal Varma
Amitabh Bachchan, Ritesh Deshmukh, Paresh Rawal, Mohnish Behl, Suchitra Krishnamurthy, Rajat Kapoor, Gul Panag, Neetu Chandra, Rajpal Yadav Anand Prakash Trivedi and Sudeep
I must digress and inform of my experience watching the award-winning 2008 political thriller Frost/Nixon. In the film, a frivolous TV presenter David Frost, to prepare for an interview with defamed American ex-President Richard Nixon, hires an entire team of researchers. They research for three months straight; keep their files in safes. That was exhilarating to watch in a world where journalists are given impossible deadlines. That interview would never be possible today. The Frost/Nixon interviews were recorded in 1977; today with news travelling at the speed of light, that kind of thought, focus and resources given to a single story is extinct.
So, the point is, without the time to assimilate and think out stories, here?s the media producing one story after the other. Then there?s the issue of making up news, as one character puts it, 'like a film'. Now, this concept has been interestingly depicted in Hollywood films like Wag the Dog, where an entire news of America going to war is fabricated and shot by a hired film producer. Heck, even Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani said pretty much the same thing as Rann (about the media-politics nexus), but in a tragicomic manner. Here the tone is self-serious and dark, and the message lost in all the intensity.
Rann begins with India 24x7 channel head Vijay Harshwardhan Malik (Amitabh Bachchan, who else could carry off that name), a scrupulous newsman, being challenged by falling TRPs and rival channels stealing ideas. Then comes his America-returned son Jay (Sudeep, Phoonk) who believes news is a business that needs to make profits, just like selling clothes and soap.
Malik?s channel and the rival (that believes in adding masala to news) side with warring politicians. The political game that ensues is portrayed as a joke, where anything goes. You have silly scenes like a channel chief laughing that bellowing villain laugh and purging out the entire dirty scheme in front of a rookie journo (Riteish Deshmukh). Rookie journo asks wide-eyed, aur desh ke log? (what about the people of India). And yes, but not before an engaging monologue by Amitabh Bachchan, good finally prevails over evil.
One is angrier with the film perhaps, because, the subject is so relevant. And Ram Gopal Varma really had a chance to make a film that could carry its message to the film-watching public. Instead, you have black and white characters comprising the usual clique of the righteous man, the villainous politician, and supportive love interest.
The film does have its moments. The time when a sensational interview line is repeated thrice for effect (eliciting guilty laughs from the present media people); the self-deprecating joke of a filmmaker announcing a film on the recent blasts; and the one where a journalist asks intelligent questions to a politician going to be elected PM, only to be replaced with a conventional interviewer who asks aapko kaisa mehsoos ho raha hai (How are you feeling?).
The portions that snatch credibility away from the film are many. There?s Bachchan?s intro where he is making an impassioned plea against religious hatred; a TV version of an editorial, and completely absent from TV news. Then there?s Rajpal Yadav, doing his buffoon act, playing the creative director of a channel. And the gradual transformation of the channel war into a family skirmish with Malik?s son-in-law (Rajat Kapoor) plotting with a rival channel.
The second half has so many characters thrown around, it?s difficult to keep track of the story that has now gone into whodunit mode. It reminds one of Madhur Bhandarkar?s Fashion where the industry felt it was an inaccurate portrayal of their profession.
Performances are earnest. Bachchan, despite being present in only a few scenes, is powerful. Riteish Deshmukh and Sudeep are good. Suchitra Krishnamoorthy is effective. Technically, the film?s camerawork and art direction is interesting. The background score is tad overwhelming.
The most poignant of all scenes, the finale monologue, has earned the film its stars. Translated in English, Malik says? 'News was meant to be the aim, and money its means. Now money is the aim, and news is the means of getting it?. And then Malik questions this with a powerful kyon (why?). Now that?s the part we were hoping the film would give us a perspective on.
Verdict: 2.5 stars