Combination of intense actor Sharwanand and director Sudheer Varma is more than enough to put expectations on high. Joined by Kalyani Priyadarshan and Kajal Aggarwal, Ranarangam is one of the awaited releases. With mafia backdrop and foreign locations as shown in trailer, let us see what the film is here to offer?
Aged Don Deva (Sharwanand) living in Spain along with couple of friends and a little cute daughter operates his activities in Visakhapatnam with a wide network. Problem arises when a contractor (Ajay) eyed on bidding for new International Airport contract in Vizag finds difficult to crack Deva. Thus we move back in time to know who Deva was in 1990s, how he grew as power center taking on local MLA Simhachalam (Murali Sharma), what happened to his love affair with Geetha (Kalyani), why he moved to Spain and how past begins to haunt his present?
Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather series has become the classic literature for gangster backdrop films. South directors like Mani Ratnam and Ram Gopal Varma made numerous films in the genre and they almost stopped trying the same after a stage when audience started to reject them. Sudheer Varma apparently believed that there is still some scope for this subject to strike a chord with. Yes, he was right. Even a known subject can be made engaging with unusual or a gripping screenplay. But, Sudheer Varma botched utterly to recreate the magic.
His story flips between present and past showing how protagonist started his illegal liquor business during prohibition time in Andhra Pradesh in 90s when NTR was the CM, his rise up the ranks in crime syndicate. Varma's idea of this flipping in two different time lines will not comfort frontbenchers. Nonetheless, Sudheer gets good marks for his dealing of action episodes, though he is inspired. Dialogues are powerful and are in right dose for an action film with Trivikram flavor.
Cinematographer Diwakar Mani has setup different tint to portray the theme and moods accordingly. Prashanth Pillai elevated the scenes with BGM, wherein he succeeded to bring the 90s atmosphere. It was indeed a tough task for Naveen Nooli to mix scenes of past and current times and his cuts were totally jerky. Art department needs special mention for recreating Vizag city in 90s. Production values of Sitara Entertainments are good.
Coming to artists, Sharwanand is seen in two distinct avatars - as a youngster who's a small time smuggler and later as a middle aged man who is now an influential gangster. Though he performed well, his look as middle aged was a bit odd and heavy mismatch. Kalyani Priyadarshan got a meaty role and made full use of it. Chemistry between the two was magical at times. Kajal Agarwal is wasted. Murali Sharma was not the right choice. Raja Chembolu was a surprise package. Sudarshan was funny. Ajay was usual and Brahmani did his part efficiently.
In simple terms, Ranarangam is a kichidi template of multiple gangster backdrop films from the times of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather to current generation RGV’s Sarkar via Mani Ratnam’s Nayakudu. Nowhere Sudheer Varma tried to move away from his copy-cat nature as every scene, every episode reminds us of past cult hits.
Finding inspiration from great movies is not at all a bad idea but how far the same is executed according to the tastes of present generation audience is the question. In this aspect, Sudheer Varma fumbled. Except a couple of hair raising scenes, nothing worked in his favor. When the storyline is known and familiar, one expects at least screenplay and narrative to be firm. Due to spineless characterizations and cliché situations, Ranarangam didn’t find the right ground to elevate the theme.
First half starts off in Spain and Visakhapatnam in parallel sprouting the core point on necessity of Sharwanand aka Deva to move to India. Before that, Sharwa’s flashback opens in Vizag from 1990s. Much of the time Sharwa’s love track with Kalyani, his friends’ batch selling black tickets to the idea of selling liquor during NTR’s period definitely raked some interest to keep first half a bit alive. Unwanted songs placed back to back are distracting. Then the development of rivalry with Murali Sharma, which is observed to be the pillar for total film is dealt weakly. To and fro on time scale from present to past was needless stunt. Action set up in a shopping mall lift paves way for interval block. Except two to three well canned fights and picturesque locales in Spain, first half really didn’t offer much.
Lot better was expected in second half because script for now is wide and open. Story also runs on expected lines showing us the growth of Sharwa as influential force in Vizag, marrying Kalyani and having a baby which of course frustrates his opponent Murali Sharma to go for violence. For all those well-known reasons Sharwa moves to Spain and now he is back in Vizag to eliminate all the enemies. Importantly, presence of second heroine Kajal Agarwal is just for namesake.
All in all, Ranarangam is a template gangster backdrop film that lacked in freshness. Except style, there was little of substance. Sharwa though gave cent percent for the character it was too heavy for him to shoulder with the general stature he enjoys among common audience. CJ goes with 2.5 stars just for the sake of Sharwa and his honesty while Sudheer Varma failed miserably in rehashing the formulaic Mafia template. BO wise, let’s wait and see.