Film Review by Khalid Mohamed: Laal Rang

By Khalid Mohamed
Originally Published on

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Khalid Mohamed

Dread, it’s about the colour red, signified by a blood donation racket in Karnal, Haryana. Left to myself, I wouldn’t have trespassed into this Laal-a-land, preferring it to spend the ‘plex ticket cash on a bottle of sauce, or just plain stay in bed. Why oh why suffer when this red stuff is more embarrassing than being caught in the buff.

Tough. For those of you believe that movie watching, in the line of reviewing duty, is sheer bliss, Laal Rang written and directed by Syed Ahmed Afzal of Youngistaan ill-fame, should serve as a wake-up call.

Naively, the team behind this blood-is-thinner-than water watchamacallit, thinks it’s exposing a social evil. No go. The result merely glorifies a perpetrator of crime who preens, rides a vintage Yamaha RX100 bike, smokes like a chimney and wears such jazzy shirts that the wardrobe hurts.

That’s Shankar (Randeep Hooda) for you. The cool dude, by rustic standards, uses the front of a college campus to commit his bloody misdeeds. Indeed! Enter, a saucer-eyed sort (Akshay Oberoi) who’s mega-impressed by the dude. Predictably, Shankar bhai and Saucer bond big-time. So far, so eeewsome. 

Laal RangNext: Saucer boy could do with more money to woo his Honey (Piaa Bajpai). So, he joins the racket, but there has to be twist in the plot, no? Will the friends flip into foes or just continue to add to the audience’s woes? Truly, who on earth cares since the characters are strictly one-dimensional, rigged up to spin just another yarn located in the badlands.

The mandatory lawforce, or top cop (Rajneesh Duggal), is about as effective as a gun without bulllets. And as for those poor rickshawallas who’re being exploited callously, sure your heart bleeds for them, but that’s about it in this bloodwalla bromance.

Of late, it would seem Haryana is the place-to-go-to. Aamir Khan and Salman Khan are poised to icarnate Haryana’s wrestling heroes in Dangal and Sultan respectively, for instance.

In Laal Rang, the Haryanvi dialect is employed, no-accents-barred. Ma’am Piaa Bajpai goes at her dialogue with such theatrical zeal, that you wonder if she’s speaking in gobbledygook or Greek. Honestly, she could have learnt plenty from Kangana Ranaut’s pitch perfect Haryana girl act in Tanu Weds Manu Returns.

As this lengthy 147-minute saga unspools, the plot wrinkles-‘n’rankles. If you don’t run-a-la-Lola-run away from your seat, it’s essentially for the atmospherically authentic camerawork by Dhirendra Shukla. Don’t even ask about the ear-jangling music score, please.

Clearly, the project’s designed for Randeep Hooda to experiment with his acting chops. To be fair, he’s bankably impressive. His accent and his in-built confidence are spot-on. Of course, he’s done this before in Highway, and it’s to his credit, that he isn’t repetitive.

Akshay Oberoi’s as earnest as a Boy Scout, disclosing still-to-be-explored- potential. On the downside, Piaa Bajpai, to put it politely, is just not happening. My apologies but I have to wind up on a personal note. My family’s roots are in district Jind, Haryana, which I’ve visited frequently, and intend to revisit in winter.

Now, if I come across characters even vaguely close to the stereotyped characterisations of Shankar, Saucer and Honey, I’ll spint back to good ol’ Mumbai asap.

 Which is what I should have done at the intermission point of this Laal Rang mein bhang.

Critic’s rating: one star


The review was originally published HERE

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