Ram Gopal Varma’s Rangeela means differently to different people. For some if it is Aamir Khan’s ‘Tapori’ act, others went bonkers over Urmila Matondkar and many who cherish Rangeela’s great music.
Rangeela as a name has an amazing success quotient in the world of Hindi cinema. For the first time when the word Rangeela was used, it was in Dev Anand’s film PREM PUJARI as song RANGEELA RE which marked the debut of Gopal Das Neeraj as a lyricist. It was the significant highlight of an otherwise mediocre film PREM PUJARI. It was perhaps for the first time that Waheeda Rehman enacted a role of drunkard and did it with grace and panache. Before Yash Chopra could weave a tapestry of romance with a white saree, it was Dev Anand who set the tone for it in PREM PUJARI.
A Cult Film
In 1995, Ram Gopal Varma used the terminology RANGEELA again and gave Hindi cinema a cult film which had many firsts to its credit. Foremost being that RANGEELA was the only musically successful film that Ram Gopal Varma ever directed in his oeuvre. It is altogether a different matter that Ram Gopal Varma never repeated his experiment of a musical again.
Even before Hindi cinema started getting dubbed and developed a market overseas in South Asian Countries like Japan and China, RANGEELA had an amazing run in Nepal. It was perhaps the first Hindi film in Nepal, which had to be brought back again for screening in a major Nepali theatre after it was removed from it. RANGEELA set the tone for outreach of Hindi cinema and the demand for it being brought back to the screen once again was perhaps identity with the character ‘Munna’ played by Aamir Khan.
Aamir Khan as Munna
Anil Kapoor around a decade ago had injected the chutzpah with his character named ‘Munna’ in TEZAAB, but it was Aamir Khan who permeated it with the devil-may-care attitude with his portrayal of Munna in RANGEELA. Subsequently ‘Munna’ became eponymous with street smart character, a template which Sanjay Dutt honed to perfection through his Munna Bhai series. Even Shah Rukh Khan had tried doing a Munna type character in the same year through RAAM JAANE but it turned out to be a damp squib, and Shah Rukh Khan never experimented with the genre of a street smart character!
A R Rehman’s music in RANGEELA was also a major contributory factor in the phenomenal success that the film achieved. He gave a new lease of life to Asha Bhonsle’s singing career and went on to win Filmfare Award as the best musician on debut – R D Burman Award, which was established in 2005 in memory of Panchamda after he passed away. Aamir Khan had expected that he would also get a Filmfare award, but it was not to be, and post RANGEELA Aamir Khan never attended any Filmfare award.
Present times of Hindi cinema is identified with setting the fashion trend for the fashion conscious, but the trend of such initiation was started with RANGEELA which marked the debut of Manish Malhotra as a fashion designer who went on to create new contours of fashion trends subsequently. It indeed would be an interesting case study to analyze fashion trends that Manish Malhotra created through the films and how it changed the paradigms of fashion in India.
RANGEELA brought the cap as an attire of statement by the actor back into reckoning. It was Dev Anand who had profusely used different forms of caps and hats as his fashion statement and Aamir Khan taking a leaf out of his idol Dev Anand used it in RANGEELA, DIL HAI KI MANTA NAHIN, ANDAAZ APNA APNA, etc. RANGEELA had set the tone and also given a new lease of life to cap manufacturers.
It was one of those rarest of films where inspite of two mainstream actors in the form of Aamir Khan and Jackie Shroff, Urmila Matondkar held on to her forte and went to further consolidate her position in the industry for a long time to come. RANGEELA could click as it underlined the premise that one should never stop dreaming and they would materialize.