Hai Rama, Munna gets the girl

Flashback Friday

Aamir Khan and Urmila Matondkar in Rangeela

Two men love a girl. The girl chooses one and breaks the other’s heart. Done to death in Bollywood, you’d say. 

But in Ram Gopal Varma’s Rangeela, which released in September 1995, the girl Mili’s an aspiring actress who chooses Munna, the boy-next-door who sells movie tickets in black. And the one left holding a broken heart is top actor Raj Kamal.

Much as we love the underdog, Varma’s ending’s still hard to swallow. But this isn’t the only reason why bittersweet romcom has high recall. 

Rangeela was A.R. Rahman’s first Hindi film, and the Mozart of Madras did shake up Bollywood’s music scene. 

For starters, he rescued Asha Bhonsle from her own legend and made her a youth icon with Tanha Tanha. He gave us a scorching male fantasy in Hai Rama, which if you were to mute and see you’d laugh at the gymnastics, but with sound it becomes the sexiest romp with a touch of noir. 

The film packed off the so-far decorous Urmila Matondkar to the beach to twerk in tiny clothes, made Aamir Khan’s Munna the most lovable tapori ever since Munnabhai, prolonged Jackie Shroff’s pin-up career and made the film industry as much a character as any of the three leads (don’t miss the credits).

Make no mistake, in the year of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Rangeela was radical. 

Mili’s a junior artiste but her family treats it as any job. No hand-wringing about who’d marry her. And yes, the star falls for her body but likes her mind too, when she talks about why she loves the movies. 

But, in the end, Mili leaves the premiere of her film and the star to run to Munna, who’s boyish and fun, but pretty limited. And we’re to assume Mili and Munna would squabble together happily ever after.


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