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Upperstall Review



Official Site



Hindi, Drama, 2010, Color

Vijay Harshwardhan Mallik (Amitabh Bachchan) runs India 24 x 7, a news channel whose reputation is based on his own ideals and beliefs. He is unfortunately in a market that is driven more by TRPs and commerce rather than the integrity of the news, and in the race to survive, is betrayed by his own well meaning but misguided son Jay (Sudeep). Between the reflexively manipulated relationships of a slimy politician Mohan Pandey (Paresh Rawal), Vijay and Jay's India 24 x 7 and their arch rival Amrish Kakkar (Monish Behl) - who runs another channel Headlines. 24 x 7 - is trapped. Tushar Shastri (Riteish Deshmukh) is an upright and honest journalist who idolizes Vijay Mallik. Rann is at once the story of the media and its role in society today, and a reflection of its own sorry state of affairs.

Rann's central role - neither a protagonist, nor the villian - is not played by Amitabh Bachchan or Riteish Deshmukh or Sudeep or Monish Behl, it's the media. The film is a sweeping statement on the role of media in modern India, a critique on the incestuous relationship between media, politics and power, and a plea for the desperate need of a truly free, transparent, and accountable media in India. In all its shades of good, bad, and ugly, in its ignorance and acceptance of its own manipulation, and in its ultimate redemption through itself, Rann puts the media in the spotlight. It is not a flattering one; for once it has nowhere to hide, no time for a break.

There is no question that Rann deals with an issue that is relevant and necessary. There is also no doubt that the film is well intentioned, and more often than not, restrains from succumbing to the trappings of the box office. But RGV falters in the treatment of the film with a statement so grand, a vision so broad. With a heavy hand and a swashbuckling camera, RGV turns Rann into his vision of a gritty political drama in his trademark style, when what it needed was just the opposite. The film, its maker, its characters, they all take themselves too seriously. Every point is magnified, every reaction is dramatized, and there is not the pause to reflect and introspect. Sudeep's reaction on hearing about his shows on a rival channel, Gul Panag and Suchitra's reaction on hearing Riteish's discovery are cases in point. This is the fundamental flaw in the film. It leaves you distracted from trying to grasp the essence of the nature of the film. It never breaks through to the surface, and leaves you disappointed at what could have been.

The other issue is with Rann's characters. They lack charm. They're well created stereotypes that do just what you're expecting them to. Which is also fine, but why so bland Ramu? Remember Hoffman's Carl Bernstein and Redford's Bob Woodward from All The President's Men? That's what Riteish's character needed in the film - a quirk, a weird , natural "thing" to him, and I'd feel for him right away. Instead, he stays in a single mode through the film, from the first frame to the last - burdened with the harshness of his own ideologies. Really, it's not that hard to be a nice guy, at least not all the time! Amitabh's Vijay Malik suffers from much the same problem. A grim ideologist fighting a losing battle of commerce versus principles, his character maintains the same mood and tempo all the way through. His impressive monologue at the end is all the less effective for it, because there was no emotional or dramatic buildup to it.

Serious questions also exist on feasibility and strength of the pivotal moments on which the story hinges, and expose a lack of thought in writing the story and the screenplay. If he does go to him eventually, why couldn't Riteish approach Bachchan first, if what he knew could compromise his mentor? The logic for this is weakly shown. Sudeep's motivation to betray his father is handled in a cliched, and ultimately impractical manner. And the less said about Riteish's "investigative journalism", the better. There are more, and they hold back in making the film a believable experience for us.

Grandiose statements are made so much more through simple and humane moments, and that is a craft well worth investing in for RGV. Rann could have been a far more effective, and therefore, a better film if Ramu had chosen to make it less weighted and more personal in all aspects. This was a subject that could have been brought out much better through lighter moments with real people.. He needs to try and break from his typical way of films when a subject demands it. Otherwise, he will be left with a film that may bear his mark, but may not be worthy of anything else.

Rann is a deliberately made film that does what it should, and deviates not an inch from the expected. And that is sad, because cinema is about breaking free. It is about joy and passion, things that the film lacks sorely. In the broad strokes of making a very necessary and timely film, RGV forgot that God is in the smaller things. Better luck next time.

Upperstall review by: Mr Care





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