Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Ritesh Deshmukh, Mohnish Behl, Paresh Rawal
Director: Ram Gopal Verma
In the climax of Ramgopal Varma's Rann, Amitabh Bachchan's character, a senior respected journalist Vijay Harshvardhan Malik delivers an eight-minute impassioned monologue explaining the relevance and the responsibility of the media. Earlier on in the same film, this pillar of journalistic integrity agrees to air an anonymously received sting-operation that implicates the country's Prime Minister for his involvement in a communal riot, without so much as verifying the source of the footage or investigating its authenticity.
As it turns out, the sting is fake. So much for his bhashan on the media's responsibility!
For a film set within the world of television news, Rann is embarrassingly ill-researched and contains plot holes the size of craters. Varma threatens to expose the politics of television news, but with his simplistic, misguided approach his film ends up just as sensational as the very channels he points fingers at.
Bachchan's character Malik is an ethical, principled channel head who's losing the TRP battle to a former colleague Amrish (played by Mohnish Behl) whose channel believes in packaging news entertainingly. Advised by his industrialist brother-in-law, Malik's son Jai (played by Phoonk's Sudeep) makes a discreet deal with a corrupt politician to air a fake sting framing the Prime Minister in exchange for enough money to save his failing channel and to set up a few more.
The sting, once aired on the channel by an unsuspecting Malik Sr, takes down the PM and helps the corrupt neta (played by Paresh Rawal) get the top job instead. But before long an earnest reporter at Malik's channel (played by Ritesh Deshmukh) smells a rat and unearths the truth. He approaches the boss with the information, and Malik Sr eventually exposes everyone involved in the scandal.
Rann is not so much a bad film as it is a boring, predictable one. Varma and his writers borrow the Madhur Bhandarkar-blueprint and give us uni-dimensional characters who are either black or white, seldom grey. Although the film's portrayal of a certain kind of Hindi news journalism may not be far from the truth, it is the film's lazy stereotyping that is tiresome here.
Varma uses crazy camera moves, tight close ups and a booming background score to create the drama that his simplistic script fails to.
What ultimately comes in the way of Rann achieving the potential of its premise is the over-use of cliché in the absence of original writing. As a result, Amitabh Bachchan is wasted in a part that requires little else but for him to look dismayed throughout the film.
I'm going with two of five for Ramgopal Varma's Rann; it's not even average stuff from a filmmaker who's given us so much more. Can we have the old Ramgopal Varma back please?