Bombay Showcase

Laal Rang: Meet the mofussil cool

The highlight:Randeep Hooda plays the cool Haryanvi dude to the hilt—Photo: Special arrangement  

From Agra in Nil Battey Sannata to Karnal in Laal Rang , it’s a journey back to the moffusil roots in Bollywood this week. In fact, so thick is the Haryanvi lingo, especially in the fantastic folksy songs, that the viewers may even need subtitles for comprehension. You would get the gist of things but the details may just pass you by.

As the title suggests, the film is about a red liquid, the one that gives life and sustains it. More specifically, it’s about a blood bank scam, on the profiteering from the illegal sale of stolen blood. A significant issue and an interesting idea for sure.

However, the film gets needlessly convoluted, narrating through a flashback when straightforward story-telling could have sufficed.

But then there are the familiar traps of bringing things full circle, offering closure and redeeming the central characters of the film, which the flashback device accomplishes well.

Rajesh (Akshay Oberoi), a lab science student, gets sucked into the world of blood trade by classmate Shankar (Randeep Hooda) and takes things to even murkier proportions till the cops catch up. This blood scam plot may wear thin but a few things that the director, Syed Ahmad Afzal embellishes it with come across as far more interesting. The male bonding, the loud, rough and rustic humour, the ready wit, the restlessness of the small town youth, their dating and mating games, simple things such as the obsession with a Yamaha RX100, the aspiration for mofussil cool is what the film brings out rather well. The bhang song, the Shiva referencing, the smoke and alcohol: this is yet another film that takes us closer to a hedonistic subculture, only the young don’t rock-n-roll in a big city here, but swing to folk in Haryana.

Towering above all the characters and actors are two things. The constant aerial shots of Karnal itself give it a sense of grandeur that usually gets lost in the on-ground dust and grime. And then there is Randeep Hooda, playing to the hilt a guy who he really is, a cool Haryanvi dude. It’s an interesting character: not just a transgressor, but a passionate lover and a loyal friend. Hooda plays it with a brooding air, an easy swagger, and a great sense of timing when it comes to delivering his lines.

A jumbled up messy film, Laal Rang could have done with a little more focus. It lacks spit-and-polish and style. There are no frills and flourishes, no slickness to the filmmaking. That, ironically, is its strength, the reason why it feels so real.

Laal Rang

Director: Syed Ahmad Afzal

Starring: Randeep Hooda, Akshay Oberoi, Piaa Bajpai

Run time: 147 minutes

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2022 8:04:47 PM |

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