Revolver Rani (1971)
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Cast and crew
Director: K. V. S. Kutumb Rao
Main Cast: Vijaylalitha.
Banner: Continental Films
Language: Telugu, dubbed into Hindi
'Not noticed or hyped as much as the Northern counterparts'
The original Telugu Revolver Rani
Telugu Movie DataBase/ TMDB on May 3, 2014
Not many people know that the first Revolver Rani was made in Telugu in 1971 with actress Vijayalalitha ( aunt of VijayaSanthi) as the heroine. This was made in those days where the Telugufied Cow boy movies were being made and she played the pivotal role as the Revolver Rani .This film also had Super star Krishna in a brief role and the rest of the movie shows Vijayalalitha fighting the bad guys and here comes the best part –Fights a lion too .Now we didn’t see Kangana do that. Its always the Southies who have done these kind of things for the first time. Only they don’t get noticed or hyped as much as the Northern counterparts.
The film was a national phenomenon
'Not noticed or hyped as much as the Northern counterparts???'
Not true, Indpaedia protests, not true at all.
The original Telugu Revolver Rani was a B movie even by 1971 Telugu standards. It was in black and white in an age when even B films in Hindi-Urdu were made in colour (though on some cheap colour negative). All the same, Revolver Rani was a sensational, crossover, national phenomenon in 1971-72. It was dubbed into Hindi-Urdu and made very decent profits on the national B movie circuit. The Bombay-based media ran huge stories about this phenomenon—and about actress Vijayalalitha.
While Revolver Rani was not the kind of film that sophisticated national audiences flocked to, the whole nation was aware of this phenomenon from Andhra Pradesh. In its own way Revolver Rani had greater impact on non-Telugu filmgoers than the mega-hit Bahubali (2015). The term Revolver Rani and the actress Vijayalalitha became household names even among those who had not seen the film.
Vijayalalitha immediately got lead roles in Hindi B movies like Rani Mera Naam (1972). Film distributors in Delhi-UP sent word to Cinema Desam (Telugu filmland) that they wanted more. The name Vijayalalitha became such a brand name that it spawned the Vijaya Shanthis, and Rani became such an A list brand that no less than superstar Sadhana, by then on the decline, decided to cash in on the phenomenon. She made Geeta Mera Naam (1974), an upmarket treatment of the Rani Mera Naam craze. How enduring the phenomenon was can be seen from the fact that in 2014 they were still trying (disastrously) to capture the excitement of the original.
Memories of the Telugu original were still fresh among national film-lovers several decades later when a Hindi-Urdu film called Revolver Rani (2014) was released and everyone thought they would see a fun remake of the original, only to be disappointed because the Hindi-Urdu film of the same name did not have the chutzpah and freshness of the original.
A scholarly review and analysis of Revolver Rani
Revolver Rani was such a cultural phenomenon that if you were into cinema you could not ignore it. Scholarly reviews and analyses of the film were entirely tongue in cheek. Here are excerpts from a review written in 2014 when the Kangana Ranaut rehash was about to be released,
Those who are familiar with Telegu action films of Revolver Rani’s particular bent -- we’ll call them “vengeful cowgirl” movies -- know that they are ripe for satire. Yet satire, at its best, needs a target that is earnest in intent, and Revolver Rani leaves a lot of doubt as to just how seriously it takes itself. For instance, there is its title sequence, a riot of proto-South Park cut out animation that sees a rapidly spinning Vijaya Lalitha picking off baddies like tin ducks in a carnival shooting range. It’s funny, but also captures perfectly the feel of these movies: antic, breathlessly hyperbolic, and more than a little spastic.
And speaking of Vijaya Lalitha, a warning: those of you who, like me, come to Revolver Rani hoping to see a showcase for that diminutive South Indian dynamo might at first feel like they’ve been the victim of a bait and switch... Rani -- thanks to Vijaya Lalitha’s unique features and command thereof -- adopts the look of a rabid Keane painting and swears her blood revenge, at which point Revolver Rani becomes the kind of movie we like…
Adding a nice Magnificent Seven aspect to the typical “ride, rumble, shoot, then dance frenetically” structure of these films, Lalitha’s Rani decides that, to combat the gang, she must first form one of her own, and so rides off in search of suitable candidates. This she does to the accompaniment of the theme tune that music director Satyam has conjured up for her, which consists of basso male voices chanting the English word “vengeance” over a Morricone-esque backing. (By the way, Rani and her crew stay true to their rough riding cowpoke ways despite this film being set in the present day; there are cars and everything.) …
While there are many familiar faces both in front of and behind the camera in Revolver Rani … a character by the name of KVS Kutumba Rao is in the director’s chair, which affords me the opportunity to momentarily … get some sense of which of the vengeful cowgirl movies’ quirks were specific to the genre, perhaps based on audience expectations, and were not a symptom of one director’s particular madness – to establish a base line for 1970s Telegu action cinema, so to speak…
Vijaya Lalitha executed a flying scissor hold on my heart from the time I first saw her, in 1972’s Kaun Saccha Kaun Jhoota, back in 2009, and there is nothing in Revolver Rani that could chill my affections. Here the actress again exhibits that same peculiar combination of flitting, bird like movements and bug eyed intensity that, paired with the unrestrained mania of her fighting style – whether with whip, karate, or freestyle wrestling – makes her a signal figure in world action cinema. The only loss here is that we get to see little of Lalitha’s equally frenetic dancing, beyond a scene where she executes the old “infiltrate the villain’s hideout by posing as a nautch girl” gambit. The item girl duties are instead taken over admirably by the actress (Kavitha, perhaps?) who portrays Krishna’s nautch girl girlfriend, Lilly.
Once gathered, Rani and her gang go about the business of picking off Vikram’s rapey minions one by one while interfering with their various criminal enterprises (a diamond robbery in one case, sex trafficking in another). They then ship each minion’s corpse to their boss in a crate, complete with a nasty note. And, in case you were wondering, Rani does refer to herself as “Revolver Rani”. This activity attracts the attention of both Vikram and the Police Commissioner, who does nothing but listen to the latest tale of Rani’s exploits before staring dreamily off into the middle distance and repeating her name. …
And still today, a film like Revolver Rani sends me into an intoxicating reverie, a world very much like that film’s credit sequence, where a pixie-ish firebrand with Sailor Moon eyes spins like a dervish while sending greasily pompadoured, mustached men flying toward every point on the horizon, guns blazing and limbs a blur. True, the inclusion of two musclebound male sidekicks takes the action spotlight off of Vijaya Lalitha a little bit, but the fact that she fights alongside them as an equal (though they rescue her on occasion, she in turn rescues them) makes me respect her even more, and Telegu cinema as a whole for walking the walk.
Now the question: Will I see the remake? … Tell me that Kangana Ranaut wrestles a lion and we might be able to do business.