The soundscape of M. Saravanan's Raangi is littered with generic music. The quick beats you hear during action scenes, the sentimental tune during an emotional scene, and the loud bangs accompanying the suspenseful moments all have a been-there-heard-before quality. The mediocrity also seeps through an unemotional filmmaking style that always picks the low-hanging fruit to accomplish its objective. This is how a police inspector is painted with heavy shades of villainy: He looks at Thaiyal Nayagi (Trisha), a news reporter, and utters how he craves to rape her. Another police officer tries to justify this remark by pointing out that the words were spoken out of frustration, but Raangi is not interested in exploring the human psyche. In other words, the movie directly attempts to push our buttons and colors its characters with a single dimension.
Raangi is made by a poseur. Saravanan, along with writer A.R. Murugadoss, has created a maladroit piece of fiction and coated it with superficial attractions like that scene inside an office where the camera moves from one computer screen to another. At times during action sequences, we get video game-like POV shots, which look very awkward and artificial. Abhinay Deo's Force 2 did a better job at integrating those POV shots into its fights. The gunfights in Raangi are not vigorous, as characters mostly seem to be firing without precise aim. The incompetence of the people on (and off) screen can often be glaringly visible. A good case in point is that boy who gets beaten up by Thaiyal in a café. Notice his amateurish reactions when he is hit by objects.
The main character in Raangi is a strong and independent female, but the brain of this film functions like that of a problematic male. Hence, the scene where Thaiyal informs a teenage girl that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and then proceeds to tell her she can "fix" her teeth and chin. Raangi wants to celebrate women and their elegance, but it's written by men who are either far from progressive or too delusional. Thaiyal gives a speech about inner beauty but later judges a girl based on her physical appearance. In front of some goons, she declares her name means "the leader of women." If we were to get leaders like this character, they would all be labeled fake feminists.
Thaiyal loves to rant about societal problems. She criticizes lustful men, politicians, and guns and how the citizens have to "request with humility" even when they are hailed as "kings" by the government. The condemnation monologues are merely employed to deliver additional thoughts of the writers, reducing Thaiyal into a talking head. But it's not just Thaiyal as, at one point, a man says, "Engines always fail. Whether it's a plane or politics." Prior to this line, we see politicians observing a plane in the background after planning someone's murder (feel free to interpret that airplane as the soul of the murdered victim leaving for the afterlife).
In Raangi, horny messages and mathematical equations float on the screen. The movie is basically a discussion titled Social Media: Boon or Bane? Online platforms give us anonymity and allow us to take anyone's identity. Thaiyal uses her niece's (Anaswara Rajan) Facebook account to chat with a 17-year-old terrorist named Aalim (Bekzod Abdumalikov), whose job is to either run around with a happy face or a sad one. Thaiyal is impressed by him and gradually falls in love with him. The material is prickly, but the movie neuters the roughness by dancing within a safe territory. The potential of the film is rendered jejune through a treatment that is less skillful and more bungling. Raangi could have been an enjoyable B-movie. However, it takes itself way too seriously and deals with a subject that needs someone with mature sensibilities.
Trisha is undoubtedly the sole highlight of Raangi. She sails through this ineffectual mess with grace and dignity. She blends into her surroundings and, to some extent, holds a firm grip on the frail structure of this film. The appeal of Raangi begins and ends with Trisha, as there is nothing else on the screen that is worth watching.
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