Vangaveeti Movie Review
Before we get into the details, could we all agree on one point? That India has had a violent past... filled with death, despair and destruction. And Ram Gopal Varma is perhaps the only director still willing to explore some truly unsettling parts of that history.
Vangaveeti tells the tale of Vangaveeti Mohana Ranga, a popular leader who led one group during the infamous faction wars of 1980s Vijayawada. The movie is about the intense rivalry between Vangaveeti and the Devineni family. Yes, the start and end of this story is known to all but it takes a certain type of talent to keep moviegoers hooked for the in-between.
RGV takes his film right down to the origins. How Vangaveeti became the leader of a clan and how his aspirations reached the political stage. How ties between various individuals soured enough to cause murder. The intrigue is ever-present. Perhaps it’s because these names have been brought on to the big screen, like this, for the very first time.
Ram Gopal Varma does gangster cinema just right. And by just right, we mean that he can dive into a subject without emerging covered in controversy. Vangaveeti’s turbulent days were marked not just by fighting between two groups but two communities too, and that makes the plot of the movie a minefield. In the days leading up to the movie’s release, several newspaper reports indicated growing anger against the director’s decision to make a movie on a topic many had preferred to forget. These were old wounds, some still healing. But RGV went ahead, anyway.
Most of what’s right with the movie lies in the casting. RGV has this uncanny skill in matching the right faces with the right characters. This is evident in his previous films too. In Vangaveeti, almost all the actors are newcomers but RGV has been able to micro-manage even the tiniest aspects of the movie. An unnecessary amount of violence does leave us with a headache but, overall, the movie holds and holds good. The generation today will require a bit of homework into Vijayawada’s history but RGV has prepared substantial viewing material. For example, so real are some of the characters that the cinema I was watching the movie in, erupted during certain parts with many moviegoers screaming out the names of real-life individuals who were part of Vangaveeti’s history.
The movie also scores in the technical department with its cinematography. RGV has been able to successfully recreate a Vijayawada many have forgotten. The action is intense and violent. Like I said before, there’s a lot of blood and some may have a problem with that.
But Sandeep is brilliant. He plays the dual roles of Vangaveeti Radha and Ranga and has done a fantastic job. The two characters have distinct personalities and histories but Sandeep has pulled it off with remarkable talent. The other one who deserves a pat is Shritej, who plays Devineni Nehru. Somehow, he has managed to look just like the real person. Vamsi Chaganti and Naina Ganguly too, have done a fabulous job. And this is when we also get to RGV’s singing. Yes, the director has sung a few songs for the film and they weren’t as bad as one thought they might be.
RGV is back. He has managed to create a film around a controversial subject without ruffling feathers. Remember, this was a time when arguments were actually settled using knives and guns. The second half drags a bit and there are a few holes in the script and the violence may shock. But Vangaveeti has connected. I watched the movie at a cinema in Vizag and I can report that like me, several others returned home, satisfied.