Rajjo claims to be a sensitive examination of the social discrimination faced by prostitutes, but writer and director Vishwas Patil’s feminism can be measured by the depth of lead performer Kangana Ranaut’s cleavage.
Ranaut, who plays the eponymous heroine, is never wanting for a blouse that reveals her front-loading or, for that matter, a low-slung skirt and brightly coloured lipstick that should have never have left the shade card. Her Rajjo is the baby-faced star of the kind of brightly lit and cheerful brothel that exists only in the movies. Presided over by eunuch Begum (Mahesh Manjrekar, the best thing in the cast and the film), the brothel becomes the haunt of another baby-face, the adolescent Chandu (Paras Arora), who is brought there to celebrate his victory in a college-level cricket match (whatever). Chandu loses his heart to Rajjo and starts bunking class in order to woo her. His parents ring no alarm bells and the college staff don’t miss him either as he embarks on a chaste romance with Rajjo even as estate developers eye the prime property on which the brothel is located.
Patil, an Indian Administrative Service officer-turned-film-maker, tries to play off Chandu’s innocence against Rajjo’s worldliness and tether the plot to the headlines—parts of Mumbai’s red-light district are currently undergoing redevelopment and gentrification. But the movie plays out unmistakably in la-la land, with characters that can only be found in other movies about prostitutes and a series of plot developments that bear little connection to the real world. Prakash Raj’s comic-book gangster-cum-creep—he seems incapable of playing anything else these days—briefly shows up to poop the party, but there is no great mystery about which way this one is headed.
Rajjo released in theatres on Friday.