Laal Rang, which means red colour, is a thriller-drama set in Karnal, Haryana, in the early 2000s, with love coursing through its veins. A dialogue early on–'human beings are puppets filled with five litres of blood, kept fresh by a heart weighing 250 grams'–sets the theme and you shall be forgiven for recalling every idiom and expression related to the vital red fluid through the course of the film.
Laal Rang is the story of an over-aged true-blue Jat student Shankar Malik (Randeep Hooda) and of a wide-eyed, ambitious, selfish Rajesh Dhiman (Akshay Oberoi) who wants to make big bucks and marry his classmate, Poonam (Pia Bajpai). The trio meets while doing their diploma in medical lab technology where Rajesh is instantly enamoured by the larger-than-life Shankar, who runs a blood bank racket. Shankar takes Rajesh under his generous wing and inducts him into the passage of manhood via alcohol, cigarettes and concepts of 'adult love' in his ramshackle room, which flaunts a poster of Subhas Chandra Bose's famous cry for blood and freedom.
At times, you may even wonder if Hooda's character found inspiration in Shiva. As a 'destroyer', he bashes up goons out of 'affection', when his 'on-off' girlfriend breaks up with him over SMS and hopes he would understand, he does. He calls himself a compulsive lover. Depicted as the swashbuckling hero, he turns the expression 'blood is thicker than water' on its head, with his ultimate benevolence towards the end.
The film touches upon ideas of friendship, betrayal, love, issues of black marketing, godmen, superstitions, but fails to delve deeper into these layers.
Poonam's character as Rajesh's girlfriend has an interesting strand. She sits like a typical lady on the motorcycle who can stem her tears and pull the choke to restart the bike when the couple gets stranded. Their romance is set against vast green fields, savoured over local ice-creams and tentative expressions of passion.
At two and a half hours, the film saunters at its own pace, zooming in over languorously shot scenes of Shankar and Rajesh's motorcycle rides. Don't expect a Sholay-styled 'Yeh dosti...' as the film focuses on Hooda's rakish charm over their blossoming friendship. The dialogues are a tight mesh of Hindi and Haryanvi, so you might have to strain in to understand at several points.
The film obviously belongs Hooda who does a good job playing the bad boy with a full-blooded heart.
Film: Laal Rang
Director: Syed Ahmed Afzal
Cast: Randeep Hooda, Akshay Oberoi, Rajneesh Duggal