The fact that the Jolly LLB (2013) director has been roped in by Vidhu Vinod Chopra to direct the much anticipated Munnabhai Chale Delhi makes a huge statement about his credentials. The crisp editing, the intense acting and a tightly woven script in Guddu Rangeela serve to underscore Kapoor’s skill as an entertainer.
Guddu Rangeela revolves around the two title characters Guudu (Amit Sadh) and Rangeela (Arshad Warsi) who are rustic conmen who decide to cheat the local goons and become hunted runaways. Thanks to their friend Gora Bengali (Dibyendu Bhattacharya), they get embroiled in the kidnapping of Billu Pahalwan’s (Ronit Roy) sister-in-law Baby (Aditi Rao Hydari). Billu Pahalwan also happens to be responsible for killing Guddu’s father and Rangeela’s wife Babli (Shishwara).
The plot per se, either on paper or on screen is not innovative. Looting, honor killing, kidnapping, politics…the story of Guddu Rangeela does not have a never-seen-before element to it. However, what makes this potboiler engaging is the manner in which the plot is made to unfold. There are several set ups and payoffs such that the audience is made curious and guessing before each element of the plot is revealed. For instance, the scene between Rangeela and his lawyer raises the question about the nature of the court case they are fighting. A few scenes later, Billu Pahalwan celebrates the victory of his case in court and the two are later linked with the flashback. The build-up is kept simple but the execution of plot revelation is clever and it works. Although the second half of the film especially the climax scene seems to have lost steam, the film still remains a good watch. A fault in the plot is the irony that the roles of both the actresses are underplayed whereas the movie is trying to make a statement about society’s injustice against women. The final shots fired by Babli and Baby seem too little too late.
Another aspect that enhances the script of Guddu Rangeela is the intensity and sincerity with which each scene is played out. Roy has rendered one of the most impactful performances in the role of the aggressive and terrifying Billu Pahalwan. The ego and anger are understated, well-played and most importantly, held consistently. The scene that introduces his character is superbly orchestrated. More than the previously attempted social satires like Phas Gaye Re Obama (2010) and Jolly LLB (2013), this single scene spoke volumes about the social taboo on inter-caste marriages. The gun shot from inside the house where a father has killed his daughter and the look triumph and satisfaction on the face of Billu Pahalwan leaves the audience horrified about the reality of honor killings in our own country.
The director seems to have deftly worked upon the actors in order to carve them into convincing characters. There is newness to the interpretation and imagination of each of the two protagonists. For instance, Rangeela’s cool indifference and insistence on eating lunch with achaar when confronted by the local goons he had double-crossed produces humour and adds a cool quotient to the character. The scooter with the sidecar that the uncle-nephew duo drives is reminiscent of Sholay (1975). It creates yet another on-screen chemistry of bromance. Guddu’s chutkulas, unabashed romantic style and simultaneous innocence make him a lovable character. However, what gives a sense of completion to this film is the small but significant character traits created for the minor roles like that of the inspectors Ajay Singh and Gulab Singh played by Amit Sial and Rajiv Gupta respectively.
Blending innocent romance and quirky lyrics, the music of Guddu Rangeela is imaginative and innovative. Songs like Maata Ka Email, the modern bhakti song, resonates the authenticity of the milieu and small town imagination. Sang at the “visa celebration” function, it shows how modernity and tradition sit next to each other in small town India. The Sooiyan song stays true to the lecherous trait of Guddu and his true liking for Baby. Sahibaan captures some old world romance and the title track draws upon interesting metaphors like a pair of shoes to define the title characters and their deep running friendship.
Guddu Rangeela is a fine example of a Bollywood film that tells us that it is not the idea but the execution that makes a movie into a deal breaker or a heart winner.