It is quite rare that a Puneri will have confusion of giving opinion. But then you witness Rajjo and it turns to be a lesson on what you expect and what you actually get in return. Rajjo starring Kangna Ranaut and directed by acclaimed Marathi author and IAS officer Vishwas Patil, gives you a feeling of expecting a National Award winning film (considering it has seven National Award Winners) but instead you witness a film which might even miss the Ghanta Awards by a wide margin.
Director: Vishwas Patil
Actor: Kangna Ranaut, Paras Arora, Prakash Raj, Mahesh Manjrekar, Swati Chitnis, Upendra Limaye and Kishore Kadam
Music: Uttam Singh
Lyrics: Sameer, Dev Kohli
You are introduced to the hero Chandu (Paras Arora – looks 16, supposed to be 21 and behaves minus 10) who visits a kotha on Grant Road to celebrate the cricket match win. Seriously? Kotha treats for winning matches? He immediately gets smitten with Rajjo (Kangna Ranaut), the Queen Bee of the kotha with dreams of becoming a big dancer. You also get to meet the wonderful caricature of characters – a eunuch brothel owner Begum (Mahesh Manjrekar. Where is Bobby Darling when you need her?), a suspended encounter specialist Salunkhe (a wasted Upendra Limaye), a friend in need Dadhi (Kishore Kadam) and so on. Chandu gets inspired by a neta Acharyaji (Avtaar Gill) who wants prostitutes and nautch girls to have a good life by going around saat pheras. Chandu proposes marriage and Rajjo sees this as an escape from the drudge. In a scene which will be disowned by the B-grade film maker’s association, they are quickly married by the brothel owner Begum and her colleagues. But of course, they disowned by the parents and dumped at a garage by Dadhi where they also have their honeymoon, shown via a shaking van, with a parrot, and a couple of horny mechanics as witness. They later shift to a village where Rajjo wears designer clothes, make-up, become a good housewife and get a job as a dance teacher at a school. Chandu tries to find various jobs too. But trouble comes in the form of politician Hande (ham specialist Prakash Raj) who wants to start a dance bar amidst land grabbing with Rajjo as star performer. The rest of the movie is for no one to guess as no one in the right mind would want to do that.
Vishwas Patil as a writer is a class but his Rajjo probably makes you question his talent. The topic interests you – a nautch girl from a dying kotha wants be a dancer, have a family and dream big. But like BRTS which might have looked good on paper and in some people’s pocket, the execution goes for a full toss. It is so full of clichés that you really wonder what all these seriously talented people were thinking making such films. Chandu’s character is too dumb and naïve. For example, he takes Rajjo to his parents after marriage saying he is trying to be responsible. Duh! No consideration is given to the fact that he is a penniless immature student. Another scene which reeks of silliness is where Hande is speaking to some journalists and to silence them, feeds them good food. And then he responds to a journalist’s question about his three wives with a cock-and-bull story. Then he sweetly threatens them to not publish what he spoke or else their offices will be destroyed. The first starts on a quick pace but everything is squandered in the film’s second half. A few dialogues and scenes do touch you. When the kotha gets torn down for redevelopment, Badi Ammi, Rajjo’s old dance teacher, leaves without informing. She is seen wandering the lanes searching for her lost world. Another dialogue by Chitnis’s character about Mumbai hits you – the poor and hungry thronged to Mumbai and found something for themselves but now this rich city does not belong to them.
Generally, actors try to save an otherwise bad film from near death. But it seems the actors have given up on this film right from the beginning. Kangna Ranaut as Rajjo is the saving grace of this film. But she is let down by her own beauty and fashion sense. Her dresses which are gorgeous on other occasion stand out as sore thumb here. Note: she is washing clothes in a deep neck burgundy salwar suit with a deep back. Manjrekar as Begum is just okay but looks more like a man in drag than a eunuch. Swati Chitnis as another brothel senior Ammi and Upendra Limaye as a suspended cop Salunkhe try to lift the characters but you feel bad for them.
Patil as a director leaves you thinking of how a good story goes to the dumps. He has written the screenplay based on the story by Jayant Pawar, but it does not justice to the talents of both Pawar and Patil. One of the best decisions by Patil is to take ace cinematographer Binod Pradhan on board who adds a certain standard to the film. The set design, especially the kothas, looks real. Let’s not get into the other details like music which is decent.
And throughout watching Rajjo, all you think of is either walking out or trying to remember what made you think of watching the film. For once, if someone asks kaisi lagi, say ‘Mera Sar‘.
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