RAJJO

 It takes giant reserves of patience to survive a film as bizarre as Rajjo. Watching this movie, you have to wonder what exactly might have tempted an actress of Kangana Ranaut’s caliber to commit to it. She plays a prostitute in Mumbai’s red-light district, determined to start a new life when she finds love. That premise, as old as Pakeezah, might have held some promise, but this film goes off in all the wrong directions, leaving you befuddled and repeatedly asking yourself: “What’s going on here?”

 
Dancing at a brothel before a bunch of lecherous men, Rajjo is spotted by baby-faced 21-year-old Chandu (Paras Arora), who’s instantly smitten. He bunks college, and spends his days holding hands with her. Before you know it, they’ve tied the knot. When his parents throw them out, the couple struggles to find a place to live. After an awkward honeymoon spent rocking a friend’s broken-down van while garage mechanics sitting outside twist their faces into orgasmic expressions, the pair is back on the street, with no way to make ends meet.
 
Predictably, the plot is centered on Rajjo’s fight against society’s bias towards ‘fallen women’, but the film itself has sleazy undertones. Prakash Raj, playing a local politician, is menacing as the film’s chief villain, but his lip-licking grubby routine is becoming dull. The dialogues are so antiquated, you’d think they were plucked from a bygone era. Sample this: “Kothewali ke pair hamesha keechad mein hote hain.” When was the last time you heard someone talk like that?
 
Director Vishwas Patil crams the film with unintentionally comical scenes like one in which prostitutes and transvestites sporting bad wigs and make-up beat their chests as their brothel is torn down to make way for a high-rise. When Rajjo finds employment as a dance teacher to adivasi children at a school in the Yeeor Hills, dirty goons from her past try every trick in the book to drag her back to shimmy at a dance bar.
 
Of the cast, it’s Mahesh Manjrekar who brings some layers to his character of the eunuch brothel owner Begum. Meanwhile, lead actor Paras Arora is annoyingly over-earnest. Sadly, it’s Kangana Ranaut who is left picking up the pieces, and she plays the dancing prostitute with commendable sincerity.
 
The film, however, is doomed. I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for Rajjo. There’s plenty hilarity but no hope for this tragic prostitute’s story. (ENDS)
 
 

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