Guddu Rangeela Hindi Movie Review
Guddu Rangeela, writer-director Subhash Kapoor's follow-up to the fantastic Jolly LLB, is one frustrating film. It's full of frustrating moments, frustrating situations, a frustrating message and some frustrating performances. But the frustration isn't because all of those things are bad, it's because they could've been so much better.
Telling a tale about a serious ill of our society in a lighthearted vein isn't the easiest of tasks, but Subhash Kapoor has proved himself to be a master at social satire. He targeted the Indian law system with Jolly LLB and our obsession with NRIs in Phas Gaye Re Obama, both times to great hilarious results. What made those two films so great was that the societal flaws were at the heart, at the center of the films and their comedy, instead of being just another part of them.
In Guddu Rangeela, the satire is incidental, just lip service. Faux heroism is Kapoor's primary concern. His two action heroes putting their lives on the line and coming out trumps is the main moral of his story, not dirty politics or women empowerment or undue influence of Khap Panchayats or honor killings, as he would like you to believe.
Kapoor does succeed in making you laugh every now and then at the plight of two wedding singers, who unwittingly get embroiled in a kidnapping plot worth Rs.10 crore. He has a seemingly unlimited cache of dialogues that involve shooting people in their behinds, and some of them are good enough to make you chuckle.
Kapoor, however, loses the plot when it comes to the social commentary. He'd probably know it better himself than a lot of other people that just by spouting a monologue about female infanticide and gang rapes, and incorporating a back story about dowry and honor killings doesn't give a film a social conscience. Simply shouting that you love your country doesn't make you a true patriot.
You have to make a stand or give it more weightage than an antakshari-playing police officer supporting character or at least not use it as a cheap ploy for creating melodrama. Yes, Subhash Kapoor probably knows it all better than most, and yet he falls into the honey trap of trying to balance his ideologies with the obvious benefits of a commercial action-comedy.
Where Guddu Rangeela fails further is in evoking some sort of sympathy for its two leads. They've obviously been a victim of great evil and tragedy, that involved the murders of their near and dear ones. They obviously have noble intentions in avenging their deaths. The antagonistic corrupt politician they face off against is obviously the personification of everything wrong with our backward mentalities.
But Kapoor never manages to make the incidents emotionally powerful enough or our two loveable miscreants even likeable enough. No matter how hard you try to like Guddu Rangeela, Guddu and Rangeela, and I tried really really hard, there just isn't enough to the story and to the characters to make a home in your heart. Even by the end of the film, they're just two random guys for us, getting into one shootout after another with hardly a scrape on them to show for it.
What doesn't help Kapoor are the performances, that range from average to decent at best. Arshad Warsi isn't quite able to repeat his histrionics from Jolly LLB, settling for a decent but unremarkable scorecard. It's not that he doesn't make the effort, which he does, but there isn't enough meat in his character and enough witty one liners to mouth. Amit Sadh looks a bit miscast and out of sorts as Warsi's partner in crime, with his eyes constantly wandering for support and his diction varying from one scene to the other.
Aditi Rao Hydari is, as always, pleasant in her performance and pleasant to the eyes, but her character is probably the most under-written part in the whole film. Ronit Roy is once again attention grabbing, threatening as hell in the film's best moments. But his performance is uneven at times and the whole bad guy act is starting to repeat itself for him. The supporting cast is supportive enough.
So yes, Guddu Rangeela could've been so much better had Subhash Kapoor stuck to his guns and made a satire that actually tried to do something about the appalling backwardness of our hinterlands. God knows Kapoor had noble intentions and all the ammunition he could need. Instead, he delivers an uninspired and insipid action comedy that neither excites nor enlightens. I'll just chalk this up to eagerness for box office success and wait for this talented writer-director's next one.