Lal Rang, a tad too slow, impresses for its first-rate performance by Randeep Hooda, writes Deepa Gauri
Lal Rang is a languidly paced movie. But like last year’s Masaan, which had its moorings in mofussil India, the film has its charm that is very un-Bollywood like.
Being un-Bollywood and yet playing to the gallery is a challenge the film tries to balance. If it achieves that, it is thanks in no mean measure to Randeep Hooda.
As Shankar, a blood bank racketeer with a heart of gold, he is effortless, delightful and wears his swagger with uncanny ease. Lal Rang, thus, belongs completely to him although the narrative is framed through the eyes of Rajesh (Akshay Oberoi), his accomplice.
Directed by Syed Ahmad Afzal, it is hard to fault the movie. The script by the director and Pankaj Matta does not look for cinematic escape routes. It is intelligent as it tries to bring out the nuances of the characters and the situations.
It is intense in portraying the inner turmoil of the protagonists. It is heart-warming in its celebration of friendship and loyalty. It is touching in its ode to lost love. The dialogues are believable, the actors never go into preachy mode and they stay true to their vulnerabilities.
For Shankar, the vulnerability is lost love, and for Rajesh it is his ambition to be something, anything other than an office peon like his father.
Shankar is presented almost don-like – the ultimate do-gooder, who is so sure of life and people. His only failing: He loves a girl who does not approve of his ways and wants to abide by family honour and conventions.
Rajesh is awed by the rich lifestyle of Shankar (who even has a Yamaha RX100) and wittingly drags himself to become part of the blood bank racket that Shankar runs with the help of the local government authorities.
We can see it coming a long way ahead that Rajesh will very soon rebel – and he does – out of greed for money to marry his love (Piaa Bajpai). The core of the film then shifts to how a diligent police officer (Rajniesh Duggall) attempts to bust the racket.
The film has real-life moments aplenty. The people talk and behave without exaggeration. All the elements of conventional story-telling are in place; the character sketches, the plot, the conflict, the climax and the resolution.
But in putting it all together, the writers resort to a pace that is sluggish to say the least. Nothing happens at all for what seems like eternity other than bringing out the character nuances. So if you hope for a stylish thriller or a racy adventure, Lal Rang could disappoint you easily.
If, on the other hand, you are willing to watch it as an indie film that tries to recreate life – as it is – with its routines and slow pace – you could discover a few moments of outstanding filmmaking that stay true to the milieu.
The film’s strength is in its performances; while Hooda steals the thunder from everyone else in every frame that he is in, Akshay delivers a convincing act.
Lal Rang, however, could have been a lot more with a tauter, meaner script. Right now, the blood flows alright – but it is so sterile you really don’t care.