Director - Sikander Bharti
Cast - Govinda, Mishika Chourasia, Anupama Agnihotri
Rating - 0/5
The reason I watched Rangeela Raja — other than the title acting as a rude provocation, a jibe at my taste in clothes — is that the film is written and produced by Pahlaj Nihalani. Yes, the man who unforgettably headed our censor board, declaring war on kisses, the word Punjab and ‘lady oriented’ cinema. A ‘sexy comedy’ made by this man would, I believed, provide a window into his indecipherable thought process. What does he believe India should watch?
Rangeela Raja, directed by Sikandar Bharti, is a mess that would have gone straight to cable TV back in 1997, where it belongs. It is a world where Govinda still has swag and Shakti Kapoor still speaks with a lisp. Add to this an interchangeable parade of skimpily dressed women and — a singular treat — Prem Chopra as a solemn, thoughtful sadhu.
I expected innuendo, given Nihalani’s history of filming songs about erections, but nothing could prepare me for this. A bosomy temptress is introduced to us via a Satyam Shivam Sundaram style song about the glory of Om, putting all her passion into caressing a Shivling. She is here to tempt Govinda, you see.
Govinda, the reason anyone may show up for this tacky disaster, is all over the place. Literally. He stars as a lascivious, skirt-chasing tycoon and doubles up as his own younger brother, a committed sadhu who wants to start a yoga institute. Govinda Sr hires women for the sole purpose of philandering, while Govinda the younger wants to be the moral voice to set his misguided brother straight.
Consent, via Nihalani’s script, equals Govinda asking a girl if she’s sure she wants to cave to his advances. Has she thought about it, he asks. ‘Where does the younger generation have the time for thinking?,’ she replies, and, assuaged by this, he pounces on her. This is the anti-MeToo film you never thought would exist.
The most lavish scene takes place in a violently garish mirrored ’Sheesh Mahal’ set, where a moustached Govinda woos a dupatta-clad Govinda. That may be the good part. Govinda’s comic timing remains taut, and there are a few rhymes he delivers that aren’t half-bad: “Kameez mein jeb, aur Raja mein aibnatural hai,” he says, rhyming shirt pocket with character flaws in a way few can. Say what you will, the actor can still groove to the beat effortlessly. In a few years, he might even enjoy viral status like that ‘wedding video uncle,’ perhaps by dancing to his own songs at parties.
Even Govinda’s patented pelvic thrusts were harmless. He was never a toxic masculine threat, no vulgarian, merely a graceful clown. Nihalani, I’m sad to report, plumbs the depths to snatch this innocence from the actor. He assaults us with images of a sickening Govinda, a performance-enhancing rapist who laughs in the face of consequences. I emerged from this film traumatised. To paraphrase a Govinda hit: ‘Ankhiyon ko goli mare.’ I want to blow my eyes out.