Film review: Guddu Rangeela muddles the message

Arshad Warsi’s comic timing always comes out on top and Amit Sadh and Aditi Rao Hydari’s verbal sparring is extremely entertaining. Credit to director Subhash Kapoor for hilarious one-liners. We just wish he had worked as hard on the screenplay as he seems to have on the dialogues.

Arshad Warsi is one of the conmen in Guddu Rangeela. Courtesy Empire International and Fox Star Studios
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Guddu Rangeela

Director: Subhash Kapoor

Starring: Arshad Warsi, Amit Sadh, Aditi Rao Hydari, Ronit Roy

Two stars

The only thing worse than a movie with no social message is a movie that makes light of one. The latter is exactly what the director Subhash Kapoor's latest film, Guddu Rangeela, feels like it's doing. The political journalist-­turned- director-­producer has a penchant for making movies with strong messages. His 2013 National Award-winning courtroom comedy Jolly LLB, also starring Arshad Warsi, and 2010's Phas Gaye Re Obama hinged on social issues. Likewise, Guddu Rangeela comes with a "message", one that gets sadly distorted by a flimsy screenplay and a far-fetched plot.

Amit Sadh and Warsi play Guddu and Rangeela, two conmen who use the good old "kidnapping and ransom" scheme to raise the money they need to get out of a mess. The turn of events in the kidnapping of Baby (Aditi Rao Hydari), is actually quite predictable (and extremely reminiscent of the 2010 movie Ishqiya, also starring Warsi).

The plot does not do much justice to the social issue the movie is trying to highlight: that of honour killings, which remain a major problem in many parts of India. Such a sensitive subject should, perhaps, have been dealt with through more serious sequences rather than a series of slapstick incidents.

Sadh, Warsi and Hydari do their best to shoulder this rickety project, which relies heavily on their acting chops. Warsi’s comic timing always comes out on top and Sadh and Hydari’s verbal sparring is extremely entertaining. Credit to Kapoor for hilarious one-liners. We just wish he had worked as hard on the screenplay as he seems to have on the dialogues.

Hydari’s character’s kidnapping, followed by the coincidence that both she and Guddu are seeking to destroy the same man, played by Ronit Roy – it all is extremely predictable and makes for boring viewing.

The parallel theme of the brotherly affection between Guddu and Rangeela is as half-baked as it gets. And Baby and Guddu’s budding romance feels contrived.

In such dire straits, the movie's songs could have come to the rescue, but they don't. The soundtrack by Amit Trivedi is disappointing and this is despite a song featuring Arijit Singh (Sooiyan, alongside Chinmayi Sripada).

The funny thing is, the movie has all the elements of a crowd-pleaser, but they fail to come together. And that is the problem: someone has taken a bunch of ideas that would grab the audience’s attention (honour killings, bromance, love between an unlikely duo) and connected the dots haphazardly.

The icing on top of this stale cake is the outlandish climax: shallow, outrageous and not at all suitable for the subject of the film, but entirely expected given how it plays out.

Why does the film still get two stars? Because of Warsi, Sadh, Hydari and Roy. If you try to ignore the fact that the director wanted to convey some kind of a message, or address a social issue, through this film, then you may enjoy the performance delivered by these actors. Just don’t try to read too much into it.

artlife@thenational.ae