LAAL RANG is a story about an ambitious youngster, Rajesh looks up to the notorious local don Shankar for life advice and direction. Even after learning that the latter is into the murky business of blood theft, Rajesh continues to support and participate in the illegal trade to earn quick money and impress a fellow student, Poonam. What follows is the story of love, friendship and betrayal that will make you laugh and tug your heartstrings at the same time!
"Laal Rang", a bromance based on true events that took place between 2002 and 2007, is a fascinating expose that highlights the illicit blood trade prevalent in some parts of India.
Narrated in a non-linear fashion, the film is the tale of bonding between Shankar (Randeep Hooda), a tout who manages the illegal blood trade in Karnal, Haryana, and his "chela" (protégé) Rajesh (Akshay Oberoi). How they meet and forge a bond, forms the crux of the tale.
Written and directed by Syed Ahmed Fazal, this story skilfully intertwines fate with reality and blends the right amount of humour, drama and seriousness in an otherwise drab subject. The Haryanvi dialect adds to the rustic aura of the setting. The dialogues are colloquial, witty and arresting, and the characters with all their quirkiness are well-etched and presented.
In an otherwise well-rounded story, the audience is left wondering about Shankar's family, which is nowhere mentioned in the film.
The romance between Shankar and his childhood sweetheart Rashi and of Rajesh with his classmate Poonam Sharma is well-crafted as sub-plots that add humane shades to their characters.
The film belongs to Randeep Hooda. He portrays the role of Shankar with sincerity, bringing out the finer nuances of his character to the fore. With a swagger in his gait, a wheel on his hip belt which he swirls at dramatic moments and riding a RX 100 Yamaha, he slips into the complex role of the heartless professional and a soft-hearted romanticist with flamboyance and guiltless ease.
He is aptly supported by Akshay Oberoi who essays the role of Rajesh. With a twinkle in his eyes, Akshay showcases his admiration for Shankar, enthusiasm and greed, effortlessly.
Pia Bajpai as Poonam Sharma is buffoonish initially, but as the narration progresses, she holds her mettle with confidence. She effectively plays the bubbly small town girl, who wants to impress by speaking in broken, "Rapidex" English.
Meenakshi Dixit as Rashi, Shankar's star-crossed love interest, Shreya Narayan as Neelam and the characters playing "Shani Baba", the fake godman, along with Suraj aka Draculla in miniscule roles leave their indelible mark in the narration. Rajneesh Duggal as Superintendent of Police Gajraj Singh is perfunctory and the rest of the cast is simply natural in their performances.
For an indie film, with moderate production values, "Laal Rang" is impressive. The sound by Shahaab Alam is note-worthy. Visually, the settings and the frames are realistic. With his top angle, wide lens shots, director of photography Dhirendra Shukla's cinematography captures Karnal in all its elements.
The heavy instrumental background score by Mathais Duplessy, Vipin Patwa and Shiraz Uppal, along with the songs "Mera mann" and "Aye khuda" integrate smoothly with the narration which is layered seamlessly by editor Shounok Ghosh.
Overall, "Laal Rang" is worth a watch for a well encapsulated story.
'Laal Rang': Randeep Hooda nails it in this bloody battle (Movie Review By Subhash K. Jha, Rating: *** )
Once in a while you tend to overlook the glaring aberrations in a story that is so well intended that it makes you wonder: why didn’t someone make this film before?
"Laal Rang" takes us into the bloodied badlands of Haryana where, we are told, there exists a thriving black market for blood banking. This idea, on paper itself, is novel, intriguing and innovative enough to grab our attention. The storytelling spiced up with dollops of devilish irony, keeps us watching to the famished finish.
This is a story of incomplete souls trying to make sense of their ambitions in an environment prone to corruption and criminality. This is the world of Anurag Kashyap and Tigmanshu Dhulia. But far less dark and moody, far more ebullient and mischievous.
Director Syed Ahmad Afzal didn’t tread the tried-and-tested path in his debut film "Youngistan". He goes even more down the unconventional road with this one, and why not? When he has at his disposal actors who know the badlands so well they look like they lived on the wild side all their lives.
Randeep Hooda’s Shankar is a blood-bartering mafioso who worships Lord Shiva and money(not in any order). Thanks to Randeep’s performance Shankar is turned into an arresting amalgamation of avarice, ambition and compassion. He covets more of everything including humanism and empathy.
Wisely director Afzal doesn’t binge on the blood theme. Instead he concentrates on building a concernedly crafted judiciously grounded relationship between Shankar -- the mentor -- and his wide-eyed adulatory ambitious-in-his-own-right protégé Rajesh.
It’s eventually a guys thing. The two actors play off against one another with crackling gusto to bring to their individual and combined presence the kind of dark yet blithe camaraderie that made Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid such a fabulous pair of guru-shishya friends.
While Akshay imparts an endearing ingenue’s warmth to his besotted pupil’s role it is Randeep who holds the plot together. The wall of bravado built around his character comes crumbling down in unexpected bouts of sentimentality. While using the theme of blood-banking to build a compromised spirit ,the film also interjects some wry commentary on the way young ambitious small-town women subvert the concept love to suit their financial purposes.
Pia Bajpai as Akshay’s pushy girlfriend is unable to impart the right amount of aggression to her part. In the absence of a creative stimulus her role remains under-developed, as the Shankar-Rajesh equation takes centrestage.
"Laal Rang" is a riveting topical tale powered by a Haryanvi heft that is captured mainly through Randeep’s swaggering performance. There are moments when his brotherly affection for Akshay seems so genuine it almost seems to exist beyond the conflicts portrayed in the plot.
"Laal Rang" rolls up a swinging slithering mass of
livid emotions and throws it in our face. Though some of it misses its mark,
this is undeniably a film worth a dekko.