While the mere mention of "Guddu Rangeela" conjures the image of a frivolous and frothy tale of two bumpkins, in reality this one is quite a dynamite.
What starts of seemingly as the tale of two small-time musicians with an orchestra in Haryana, Guddu (Amit Sadh) and Rangeela (Arshad Warsi), who are also part-time informants aiding robberies to make a fast buck, unfurls as a layered revenge saga with khap politics as the backdrop.
While Guddu is always aspiring to strike it big, Rangeela is principled, even if he indulges in petty crime. His single-handed motive is to collect money to pay his lawyer for a case he has been fighting for the past ten years. Again, it is only to earn a large sum of money quickly, that he agrees to kidnap Baby (Aditi Rao Hydari) and that too because he is in the dark about the real purpose behind it.
A sound and nuanced screenplay with well-etched characters, Guddu Rangeela is a 'paisa vasool' (worth the money) entertainer, with social messages, action, drama and humour in abundance. The dialogues are sharp, hard-hitting and witty, laced with the right amount of humour, albeit in the Haryanvi dialect.
Amit Sadh as the jovial, flirtatious and ambitious Guddu, brings the right amount of energy and realism to his character, playing his role with convivial ease and flourish. He is the perfect complement to his cousin Rangeela on screen.
Arshad Warsi as Rangeela, is in full form after a long time and an absolute treat to watch. His entry with the famous song, "Kal raat Mata ka mujhe email aaya hai" seems a tad frivolous, but his character blossoms into a well-rounded one, as his story is unravelled. Humour, action and emotions, Arshad as Rangeela is always in command and has the audience one with him in empathy.
Ronit Roy as the powerful and corrupt self-proclaimed muscleman Billu Pehalwan portrays his character effortlessly with the right degree of rugged ruthlessness.
Aditi Rao Hydari unfortunately pales in comparison to these three actors. She is convincing, but does not render a powerful performance.
Some of the lesser known actors who essay the characters of 'Bangali' the Informer, the police inspector and his aide, light up the screen with their brilliant performances. The antakshari scene with the constable outside the bathroom, is nothing short of absolute talent, proving that an actor needs only one scene to shine.
The background score by Hitesh Sonik and music by Amit Trivedi enhance the flavour of the film. The lyrics, are not only poetry, but enmeshed with humour too, capture the essence of the film's setting so aptly.
The cinematography by Jamie Fowlds is smooth and picture perfect and can't go unnoticed.
Quality writing apart, Subhash Kapoor's direction exudes intelligence and maturity. His astute handling of a complex drama, with strong messages, camouflaged in entertainment, is extraordinary. There is never a dull moment and the script is crisp and well-contained.
It is after a long time that one witnesses action scenes which are engaging and not merely technically-sound and robotic. You feel for the characters and long for the villain to be punished.
Big surprises come in small packages, and "Guddu Rangeela" is easily one of the best ones in the first half of this year. Watch this one and treat yourself to a good film.