Arshad Warsi, Amit Sadh, Aditi Rao Hydari, Ronit Roy
Director Subhash Kapoor has a flair for political satire and social commentary. Phas Gaye Re Obama (2010) was a fairly enjoyable kidnapping comedy, and Jolly LLB (2013) took some amusing potshots at the Indian legal system.
In Guddu Rangeela, Kapoor has once again attempted kidnapping and socio-political tropes, but with much less success. Amit Sadh and Arshad Warsi play Guddu and Rangeela respectively, a couple of stereotypical north Indian goofballs involved in small-time scams. When they finally bite off more than they can chew and end up in desperate need of 10 lakhs, they're forced to accept a kidnapping job that involves holding a speech- and hearing-impaired girl named Baby (Aditi Rao Hydari) for ransom.
It's all fine and dandy in the beginning - the film is a straightforward comedy with a fun dose of rural north-Indian humor. One scene has the two of them hilariously crooning a song called 'Mata ka email' before an audience.
You're led to believe that this will be a crime caper along the lines of Dedh Ishqiya. Unfortunately, there's a twist to the kidnapping and suddenly the film turns into a serious drama laced with sociopolitical whiffling. The commentary is heavy-handed - there's a formulaic khap leader (Ronit Roy) who constantly rapes and kills, and stares with bloodshot eyes, threatening murder to female politicians. Roy has played this heartless, ruthless towering baddie five times since Udaan (2010), and it's become a bit of a parody.
is also very loud. As the narrative gets messy and the humour dissipates, the plot shifts from a rural village to Shimla to coal mines to sex tapes without really settling to a focus. A ham-handed tragic backstory to Rangeela prompts some deafening Karan-Arjun style speech-giving. The twists make no sense and give the film the air of a bad 1980s flick, rather than a parody of one.
While Warsi is fine, yet again, as the bearded small-town lead, Sadh is utterly miscast as a goof. Hydari has little impact; but then she doesn't have much to work with in terms of character.
There's a graceless attempt at 'women's empowerment' towards the end. All it does is makes one wish the film had just stuck to delivering harmless entertainment.