Keeping in mind its dark realistic theme, a heavy regional feel and all unknown names in the cast apart from Randeep Hooda, no one was admittedly expecting LAAL RANG to be an enjoyable worth watching film made on a novel concept. Such timely surprises actually infuse a new life back into the medium and I really love living that Friday when a highly underrated film like this, turns out to be an extremely pleasant experience offering more than one big merit to mention, praising the effort as a whole. So giving you the good news, here is a film that proves all pre-release speculations (largely) wrong and successfully manages to entertain despite being based on a dark, depressing subject of blood-bank black marketing and exploitation of the poor.
Now may be it was my personal experience of watching it sitting behind a big group of young energetic Haryanavi boys enjoying it to the most giving their constant witty comments or it was our mutual admiration for YAMAHA RX 100 bike used in its key sequences that made me appreciate LAAL RANG much more than my own expectations ignoring its minor flaws.
Whatever might be the reason, the other truth remains that the film does prove to be a clear winner within its first 30 minutes itself when you simply start loving all the realistic characters on screen led by one of the most underrated actors of our times, Randeep Hooda. And then the highly original proceedings, a never before kind of fresh subject, immensely likable local feel, well written entertaining dialogues (using the raw Hariyanavi tone) and worth appreciating supporting performances give you a pretty good time in the theater, much beyond the promises made by its interesting trailer.
No doubt the ‘real life inspired’ theme of a blood-bank racket playing with people’s lives serves as the major strength of the film providing the novelty factor. But it’s eventually Randeep Hooda, who single handedly lifts up the whole narration to much higher levels in the later parts of the film, also getting a worth mentioning valuable support from the cinematography, soundtrack and background score department too, together putting up a great show.
Presenting it as a restrained crime-thriller, director Syed Ahmed Afzal neither uses any guns nor stylized gang wars in his true to life portrayal of the real life happenings. There are no high end car-chases or fight sequences generating the usual kind of filmy excitement. And yet there exists a certain likable (raw) aura around its entire distasteful proceedings that never lets you feel uninterested or tired right till the finale sequence having its own emotional appeal ending on a positive note.
With a perfectly chosen cast LAAL RANG progresses at a convincing easy pace (without any fast intercuts) pulling you into the world of its likeable realistic characters dealing with love, friendship, poverty, crime and their own individual conflicts in a highly believable manner. Apart from the engaging bromance, the film also successfully presents the sensitive romance between its lead couple with a much entertaining use of Rapidex English Speaking Course heard after a long gap. Besides, many of the supporting characters also manage to make a more than decent impact on the viewers like the short statured Shani Baba (Kumar Saurabh), the blood bank manager (Rajendra Sethi), the rival goons (including Ashutosh - the Roadies/Big Boss winner) and the thin rickshaw puller donating his blood every 15 days.
As a known blood-bank racket kingpin with solid high-level connections, Randeep Hooda simply nails it playing on his home turf with a perfect Haryanvi lingo and killer expressions. In fact, LAAL RANG just deserves a watch for his solo performance alone having an immensely lovable charm and a strong magnetism. Displaying a variety of shades in his characterization, Hooda truly wins your heart in the climax which even forces you to think, that do such good hearted, cool & sensitive criminals really exist?
Playing his student-cum-partner in crime, Akshay Oberoi gives an earnest performance managing well but its Piaa Bajpai who simply excels in her role of a clumsy girl deliberately using English words in her dialogues with an extra ‘s’ in the end. Rajneish Duggal is just fine as the Police officer in charge and so is pretty Meenakshi Dixit as the Randeep’s love interest. Whereas Shreya Narayan entertains as the lab-assistant reminding you of the good old Bindu or Aruna Irani and it was great to see veteran Keemti Anand on screen too after a long time.
Among the drawbacks, a lot of creative liberty has been taken tackling the donated blood packets, their transfer, delivery and storage in terms of medical restrictions as per my own assumptions. The narration does take a dip in the second half (in absence of Randeep) and also goes into an extra length adding a situational song towards the climax that could have been avoided. Randeep, not exactly looking like a young Diploma student and few clichéd references in the script may also be a concern for many. Moreover, the heavy Hariyanavi flavor in the dialogues might not be able to impress the viewers unaware of the language and its amusing raw tone (more relatable for the people of Delhi, NCR, Haryana, Karnal and the adjacent regions).
However, with a motive of inspiring you further to go for this underrated worth watching film as a must, would like to mention some of its interesting key features as given below.
Though the director intentionally presents the subject in an enjoyable comic style, still LAAL RANG boldly reveals the ugly blood-bank racket operational in almost every region of the country, shockingly including everyone from the local nursing homes to major city hospitals as shown in the film (at times also selling infected, untested or even rejected units of blood to the patient’s relatives).
The film draws your attention towards a significant part of our poor population that does consider ‘Blood donation’ as a major source of earning money both in the rural as well as metro cities.
Depicting the scary situation with a pinch of sarcasm, a poster of Subhash Chandra Bose in the film can be spotted with an alteration made to the famous quote as, “Tum Mujhe Khoon Do Main Tumhe Paise Doonga”.
Mentioning another intelligent insertion in the film, a sequence first showcases a group of young boys commenting upon the girls in the Diploma College premises as usual. But just after a few minutes a couple of girls are also shown doing the same with a smart boy passing by balancing the earlier act.
A few well-conceived musical tracks with a typical Hariyanavi flavour look simply great inserted in its various sequences, a lot different from what we usually get to see and hear in Hindi mainstream films. Like ‘Bawli Booch’ and specifically ‘Tere Pey Main Kardun Kharach Karod’ in its catchy slower version.
A character in the film, who steals blood pouches from the Delhi hospitals giving a regular supply to Randeep is named as “Dracula of Delhi” and the film has several other small references of Hooda’s repulsive yet entertaining sense of humour making it a compelling watch.
Summing up, I have interestingly read many discouraging reviews of the movie in the print and web media together giving their own various reasons. But the novel-fresh subject of the film, its intelligent execution, the sarcastic humour, an excellent realistic feel, the entertaining local lingo, the unusual original soundtrack and all worth praising performances from the entire cast do not allow me to rate it as any mediocre movie at all, putting it honestly.
So as a BTC recommendation, do try to watch it and have a great time with its mostly unknown cast and a funny, bloody man played to perfection by Randeep Hooda.
Rating : 3.5 / 5 (Including a big one for Randeep alone for his flawless Hariyanavi act)