There will be blood. In a film about blood banks, donors and stealers, and greedy smugglers, of course there are rivers of the good red stuff : you can’t get away from it. You also can’t get over the feeling of abject waste when a good subject is bled so much that lifelessness results.
Rajesh ( Oberoi) hooks up with Shankar ( Hooda) to become part of a ‘khooni’ cartel : when there is more demand, and the supply is short, ready cash becomes the lubricant to stealthily shift packets of life-saving blood from point A to point B.
The setting is Karnal, Haryana. And ‘Laal Rang’ never lets us forget it. Hooda is a true-blue Jat and can and does sound authentic. The other characters too look very much a part of the scene, including the Saharanpur girl Poonam whose experiments with the Ingliss language are hilarious. There’s an overdone ‘sadhu’, who is interesting up to a point, and a shifty, blonde-haired carrier who I wanted to see more of. But when you hear a spate of Haryanvi accents being chewed non-stop for two hours, it starts coming out of your ears.
Especially because, after setting the scene – the nexus between the carriers and the suppliers, the lusty hospital administrator in charge of registers, the randy stealer of the ‘laal rang’, the girls who are to be sighed over, the men who are to be fixed in order to keep the traffic smooth— the film takes a dive, flounders, and stills.
The film is meant to be based on two `real life’ incidents, but it doesn’t tell us which. What we get, to begin with, is a scary inside view of the kind of skullduggery that goes on between places and people who are meant to be engaged in saving our lives, and are instead, busy lining their pockets, criminally indifferent to the dangers they pose.
Then it boils down to the usual cat-and-mouse game between a diligent cop ( Duggal) and the blood robbers. And Hooda—an actor who is always watchable, especially when he is strutting the walk– loses yet another opportunity to break out of the long run of indifferent films he’s been stuck in.
Director: Syed Ahmad Afzal
Star cast: Randeep Hooda, Akshay Oberoi, Pia Bajpai, Rajniesh Duggal
One and a half stars.