Arshad Warsi, Amit Sadh, Aditi Rao Hydari, Ronit Roy
If revenge motivates you, go for it! But the main thing is to set your game in order - Viswanathan Anand.
Journalist-turned-filmmaker Subhash Kapoor, director of films such as Phas Gaye Re Obama and Jolly LLB, is back with Guddu Rangeela, a film that tries hard to present Haryana as the perfect premise for a 'desi' western. He refers to Sholay, uses the basic essence of femme fatale and mixes them with a heavy dose of fist-fighting to guarantee a high octane 'macho' film. But is it enough to make the adrenaline rush?
The story unfolds somewhere in the interiors of Haryana where Guddu (Amit Sadh) and Rangeela (Arshad Warsi) are two fake folk singers: They decide on becoming one right after an overnight 'jagran' where the two entertain people by crooning 'Mata Ka E Mail'. Soon they turn into informers, but with a difference: they see no difference between the police and the local gangsters, and pass on information to anybody who's ready to pay them.
Guddu-Rangeela takes their cue from Jai-Veeru of Sholay.
Trouble starts when the corrupt local administration arrests them and demands a hefty bribe. Life takes another twist for the two when Gora Bengali (Dibyendu Bhattacharya) walks into their lives. Bengali, a man who loves to flaunt his colourful hair wrap, drives the duo to take up a challenge which is as layered as an onion.
In the adjacent universe, Billu Pehalwan (Ronit Roy) is synonymous with the system. Billu’s vicious smile can paralyse people and staging honour killing is his claim to fame. The undisputed king of the area is too fond of his sister-in-law Baby (
) and she becomes the bone of contention between him and Guddu and Rangeela. But there’s much more to what meets the eyes, and the new revelations are going to turn everybody's life upside down.
Aditi Rao Hydari has a meaty role in Guddu Rangeela.
Guddu Rangeela treads the same path that Ishaqzaade, Boss and NH10 took in recent times. The idea of a blood-thirsty cynical hinterland forms the basis of
where the village headman (Nambardar) celebrates the visa approval of his son to Kenya. Rangeela is a surma-clad composed man who occasionally cracks jokes in his usual 'circuit' style, while his mildly effeminate partner Guddu is more of a flirt. These characters are modeled on the lines of Jai-Veeru as the director keeps spoon-feeding his audience through phrases such as 'Loha garam hai, maar de hathoda' and 'Ab main iska badla lunga'.
Similarly, Billu Pehalwan’s mannerism screams of the modern-day Gabbar. His walk, holster and tight grip on women’s neck present him as one of the tougher bad guys of recent times. His blank gaze is extremely menacing and his gravitas mesmerising, both at the same time. He did it in Udaan, Boss and Ugly and he has done it again. Ronit Roy’s towering presence adds immense value to vengeance, but unfortunately he is not responsible for the entire film.
Ronit Roy has a menacing presence in Guddu Rangeela.
What brings Guddu Rangeela down is its below average writing.
Though back-stories propel the theme, somehow they don’t build enough steam before launching the final assault. Take Aditi Rao Hydari’s character, for instance. She is a sort of mastermind, but her plan is basically about pitching a group of five against a sea of butchers in an open battlefield. Also, Aditi’s conversations with Amit Sadh present her as a vulnerable, easily manipulated woman than a juggernaut. Sadh keeps asking her ‘degi kya’, ‘legi kya’ and all she replies with is a coy smile. Too much sacrifice in the name of revenge! It seems the director is in a hurry to make the love bloom between Sadh and Hydari. It required a little more time.
In one of the scenes, we witness a doe-eyed Sadh asking ‘Bhai, hum gangster kyun nahi ban sakte’, and suddenly he turns into our very own Django, without any prior training. Very swift, I must say. That reminds me, the entry of Brijendra Kala and Dibyendu on a bike with amours is the most striking image of the film. This is one moment which will stick in your memory for long. It’s a classic scene and the director should be applauded for such an imaginative sequence. It also reminded me of the penultimate moments of Dedh Ishqiya where Nawab Sahab (Manoj Pahwa) opens fire on a bunch of delinquents.
After a long time, Arshad has been seen in a serious role.
In fact, the director’s decision to delve upon the idea of a crude retribution pays back only because of such powerful scenes. Arshad Warsi and Ronit Roy have acted on these scenes with electric eagerness and fire. But the question is: Does the sequence come a little too late in the film?
Another fantastic scene features Rajeev Gupta, a corrupt police officer, and Amit Sadh. They decide to play 'antaakshri' where he begins singing and Sadh answers him from inside a toilet. It’s hilarious and shows how a good actor can turn an otherwise average scene into a good one.
The film is based on the theme of honour killing.
attempts to build a narrative around 'passionate crimes', but fails to hit the right crescendo because of flawed writing. This is one story which has got all the basic elements, but their placement in the story is flawed. A character in the film very candidly says ‘crime me personal touch aa jaaye toh crime passionate ho jaata hai’, and this is exactly what is missing in the film: A personal touch.
Guddu Rangeela takes you to the world of honour killings and ruthless patriarchy, but glides back just when you start feeling for the victims. It shows the latent potential of the theme and then hesitates in exploiting it completely.
In a nutshell, Guddu Rangeela refuses to rise above the average level. And, before I finish, here’s a quote by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121 AD – 180 AD): To refrain from imitation is the best revenge.