I’m not going to muck around: I loved Rangeela. Right from the opening number, where Urmila Matondkar’s Mili proves that all she needs is a summer frock to hip it to the hop, I was hooked.
This is a film where 80s freestyle meets 90s Mumbai; it’s familiarly nostalgic and freshly out there all at once. I mean, there is a body popping Charlie Chaplin! There’s a kid rapping about Horlicks. There’s Urmila in plaits, a beret and cut-off jeans. There is Asha Bhosle going synthpop. I could watch it again right now.
Mili’s best friend is Munna, who we first meet scalping film tickets outside a cinema. Munna is a bit of a bad ‘un – as well as being up to mischief with the tickets, he can’t even take Mili to a film without starting a fight. Yet, Munna is always somehow redeemable. He’s the loveable rogue of Yaaro Sun Lo Zara. This is probably because he’s played by Aamir Khan, who even makes it possible to forgive a string vest.
Mili doesn’t just dance in the street. She’s a proper dancer … sort of. She bops away unnoticed in the chorus background of Bollywood numbers.
She’s unnoticed, that is, until she practices on the beach and is spotted by Jackie Shroff. Personally, I can think of few things more horrifying than catching the Shroff’s attention – and in Tanha Tanha he’s a stalker in speedos. In Hai Rama he’s all unbuttoned shirt and rough embraces Mills & Boon style (oh, ick).
Next thing, Mili’s been whisked off to become a starlet. For Munna, still flogging those tickets, it’s like watching her slip away into a different world. We hit intermission with him, dressed up like a canary in a failed effort to impress her, taking her to a posh lunch where she bumps into Jackie Shroff and leaves with him. And Munna, primed for a fight, sat there with plates of food he does not know how to eat, becomes touchingly tragic.
So there’s a simple plot and it has three people in it. Two of them have fallen in love with Mili.
What happens in the end? Well, rings are bought … confessions are penned … Mili wakes up … and both Munna and the Shroff are the bigger man, in their own ways.