Ranarangam starts in Spain, present day, with a drug deal. Deva is now a 40 something year old Gangster in Spain, apparently, immune to any kind of trouble. The screenplay jumps from Present to Past, showing us Deva’s journey from selling movie tickets in Black to singlehandedly stopping a drug deal in Spain. It is 1995 and NTR, the Chief Minister has announced prohibition of liquor in the state and Deva and gang pounce on to this opportunity to catapult their business into invincibility.
Sudheer Varma is in good form as a director. He creates two distinct worlds along with his cinematographer and his excellent leading man, Sarwanand. Especially the portions set in 1995 are meticulously designed. With appropriate telephones, cars and costumes, a believable world is created, for us to invest in. The love story in the first half is refreshingly enjoyable. There is no silliness here, there are adorable meetcute moments and some mature scenes between the two lovers, that add depth to this love track.
Sarwanand commands your attention when he is on screen. The age and strata distinction is made beautifully by subtle changes in body language. His face acts like a canvas of powerful emotions. There is a certain firmness about his presence. Most other actors in the film do a good job of acting out their, relatively, insignificant parts. Kalyani Priyadarshan has enough screentime to make an impression and she does make an impression with a decent performance that exudes right amount of cuteness and character. For a role that is not particularly well-written, she manages to create a living-breathing young lady out of her character that is on paper.
Sudheer Varma relies on unpredictability to mitigate the damage his superficial writing causes. At a running time of 138 minutes, I can’t help but wonder why not more time was taken to etch out the characters and give the story a significant arc. There is an emotional void in the writing. Nuanced writing gives way to the swagger in storytelling and that is never a great deal. The director has been vocal about emulating his idol Tarantino’s style by indianizing it, which is written over several scenes of the film. He is wise enough to borrow the style and not the substance from his idol but unfortunately, that is precisely what this film is missing, Substance. Sudheer Varma writes and painstakingly stages and frames some exceptional sequences. These thrilling scenes are planted throughout the screenplay but they do not serve the bigger picture and leave an underwhelming feeling behind.The excitement fizzles as familiarity creeps into this, fairly enjoyable, Standard issue Gangster drama.
Sudheer Varma is in love with his genre trops of a crime thriller. There is nail-biting tension every few minutes in the screenplay and it manages to hold your attention for the first half of Ranarangam. The screenplay spirals down in the second half, resorting to cliches and ends at a point that is anything but climactic. An unconvincing twist in the climax falls flat and the screenplay fails to pile-up any tension in the second half to drive the film to a crescendo where the story could climax. The film rather ends like an edgy short film that relies only on the shock value it possesses.
The director shows off his visual audacity but succumbs to cliched Gangster trops to aid his attractive visuals. For a Gangster saga, Ranarangam is devoid of any journey whatsoever. There is neither a satisfying internal journey of the characters nor is there any particularly interesting journey in their lives. Sudheer Varma gives you nothing to take home from this enjoyable film, but a few bouts of excitement and a sour taste of a delicious looking savoury.