Director: Subhash Kapoor
Cast: Arshad Warsi, Aditi Rao Hydari, Amit Sadh, Ronit Roy
Rating: 2.5 stars
Given the number of films these days that are set in the bloodthirsty hinterlands of Haryana, it's time Bollywood had a genre called 'Haryana Horrors'. Last week it was Miss Tanakpur Hazir Ho, a light hearted social satire on events surrounding the rape of a buffalo. Close on its heels, Guddu- Rangeela, directed by Subhash Kapoor, is also set in a similar backdrop of the horrific superpowers of Khaps, who go about conducting honour killings like a daily chore.
Like its predecessor, Guddu-Rangeela is also inspired by a true event, the honour killing of Manoj and Babli who had an intercaste marriage in 2007. In the film however, Arshad Warsi, whose character is based on Manoj, lives to tell the tale. And since it is never known why, it appears to be just so the film could exist. There's nothing rangeela though about him, except his purple jacket that he dons during his local orchestra performances, where he sings devotional songs on social networking. The film has a high pitched start with the delightfully penned and composed Mata Ka Email (Irshad Kamil and Amit Trivedi, take a bow) and no one is complaining. But when the best part of the trailer comes in the very first minute of the film, it could well be a warning sign.
Rangeela's partner in crime is the floppy haired Amit Sadh as Guddu. Their orchestra is only a cover for gathering information on the amount of riches stored in wealthy households. They tip off local gangsters in exchange of minor commission, because these small-time outlaws are too large hearted and righteous to commit crimes themselves. Nonetheless, they find themselves in the middle of several sticky situations where they must get their hands bloodied.
Guddu-Rangeela has its heart in the right place, much like its title characters. And just like them, the film too begins to lose its head. The overcrowding of subplots kills the film's purpose if it had any. By the time we are in the second half, we don't know the key plot from the subplots. And all we are left with is a lot of thirst for revenge. But too much of badle ki aag can result in a burnout and that's exactly what happens to Guddu-Rangeela.
The actors put in all they've got to polish the dull patches. Leading the pack is Ronit Roy whose bloodshot eyes and blank stare show us once again why he's fast becoming Bollywood's favourite villain. He plays the role of Billu Pehlwan, a local politician and a Khap leader, who manipulates parents to kill their children if they dare to fall in love outside their caste, or sometimes for falling in love at all. The actor seems to have mastered the Haryanvi accent too. He brings alive the menacing reality to an extent that you thank your stars you are not within his breathing space.
Aditi Rao Hydari has a very strong role, that of a mastermind of sorts. But the script doesn't build on her character, giving her little space to emote. She however impresses in some scenes, but largely remains lacklustre. Amit looks too cute to bring the slight vulgar edge to the character of a boy whose idea of romance stretches between two words --- degi and legi, with question marks of course. Clearly he has a long way to Arshad's Babban from Ishqiya, something Guddu tries to be. His bromance with Arshad is not convincing either. However, Guddu's naughty charm works in some scenes. Arshad is in top form as always, but his character gives him no space to display his comic flair, except for just a few flashes in the pan. It's Guddu who is trusted with providing the comic relief and that may not have been the director's best call.
The supporting cast provides many laughs. Especially the inimitable Rajiv Gupta's Gulab Singh, who is so gleeful about winning an antakshari match with Guddu, that he's least bothered that Guddu has slipped away. Also you'll never see Rajinder Kala and Dibyendu Bhattacharya the way they are shown in this film. They could well be the 'surprise package'. Rajinder might just be known as Rambo Rajinder from now on.
Among the film's few winning moments is the last scene where a top shot shows a black, dusty Cadillac making its way through the rustic and unforgiving Haryana terrains. Very Thelma and Louise, just those last few seconds.
A good start and finish. Shame, the middle doesn't hold up....