Take the Khap and the ‘paap’ it engenders. Stir in a couple of golden-hearted crooks. Season with rage and revenge. And you get ‘Guddu Rangeela’, which is actually two people: young hot-head Guddu (Amit Sadh), and Rangeela (Arshad Warsi), older and the more seasoned of the two, both partners-in-crime.
The film is fashioned as a jaunty ride through Jatland, a theme currently all the rage in Bollywood. Guddu and Rangeela are forced into petty criminality by circumstance and the menacing Billu Pehelwaan (Ronit Roy), the thunderous voice of the Khap panchayat. The latter is a brutal enforcer, making sure that the Khap’s diktats are followed through, and the two get caught up in one such escapade.
The action moves from a Haryana village to Chandigarh to Simla and back, and the first half, with its cat-and-mouse skirmishes and back-stories, passes by swiftly. We get to know why Guddu and Rangeela are the way they are. We meet a fresh trio – a dodgy police informer (Bhattacharya), a scrawny caretaker of a hilly getaway (Kala) and a pretty girl with a mysterious past (Aditi Rao Hydari) — all of whom have an axe to grind with the self- same Billu. A couple of bumbling cops (Sial and Gupta ; the latter, hilarious) are added to the mix, and everyone gets down to the chase.
While jauntiness is to the fore, the film is good fun. But when it strays into the ‘badla-and-samaaj-ka-badlaav’ areas, Kapoor loses his footing: trying to marry a comic caper and social commentary can be tricky, and the muddle hobbles the film, not letting it be the all-out romp that it could have been.
It’s not just the tonal shifts that confuse. The plot strands in the second half, becomes laboured and the contrivances that we were busy ignoring till then rear their heads, all the way till the clunky climax. That the dialogue will be risible in a flick like this is a given: how else do men who believe they own women—not just their own, but those from their entire community– talk? But even so, there are many lines that jar. ‘Main tumhari raksha na kar sakaa’, says a character, to his woman. And the old, old ‘lena-dena’ type vulgarities do nothing for a film trying to be fresh and funny.
Subhash Kapoor likes quirky crooks and good-bad guys, and his USP lies in the way he catches the ‘sur’ of the small-time ‘badmaashi’ the story is strewn with: his heroes are just people scrambling to get by in a harsh world. This time around, he introduces the all-black Billu. Roy channels the inflexible Jat well enough, chewing out his lines, underlining the accent, but he is also, by now, the too familiar figure of menace, and weighs heavily on the film. I’m now waiting for someone to give him a light-hearted part.
As ever, the one who keeps us watching is Warsi. We’ve seen his kohl-rimmed eyes before and he is given old tricks and ticks, but he makes Rangeela serviceable-with-the–occasional-lift: just the way he grooves to the opening ‘Mata ka email aaya hai’ song is a hoot. Amit Sadh makes a valiant stab at being the ‘lafanga’, even if his polished edges show him up, and some of the sequences which have this gang and the cops scampering about, are rollicking. The director is not so good with his women, though: both the lovelies needed more to do, especially Shriswara whose character goes from submissive to fiery in a forced stroke.
Kapoor demonstrates a growing assuredness, which is clear in the robust, cracking portions of the film: all he now needs is a solid hole-less plot with lines to match.
Star Cast: Arshad Warsi, Amit Sadh, Ronit Roy, Aditi Rao Hyadri, Shriswara, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Amit Sial, Rajeev Gupta, Brijendra Kala
Director : Subhash Kapoor