Director: Syed Ahmad Afzal
Writer: Syed Ahmad Afzal (story, screenplay & dialogue), Pankaj Matta
Stars: Piaa Bajpai, Meenakshi Dixit, Rajneesh Duggal, Randeep Hooda
Runtime: 2h 27min
Released: 22 Apr 2016
Storyline: A social drama full of black humour set in the milieu of Karnal’s blood theft mafia. Shankar (Randeep Hooda) is the kingpin of the thriving business of blood-theft in Karnal (Haryana). To get better access to blood-banks, he enrolls himself in a government college where he meets Rajesh. The latter is enamored by Shankar’s aura. They become thick friends and partners-in-crime. But greed and ego changes their equation.
Review: Neither the title, nor the trailer suggests anything about Laal Rang’s dark setting. So, when the macabre thriller unfolds, it manages to keep the audience engrossed. Randeep Hooda’s character Shankar spreads its charm and completely absorbs us into his blood transfusion racket where he plays both the devil and savior.
Shankar’s friendship leads Rajesh (Akshay Oberoi) into a blood bank scam run by some ambitious Haryanvi youths. It turns out to be a goldmine for poor Rajesh who wants to own latest bikes and cool shades. Like most gangster-prodigy stories, they also fall out, but their past doesn’t let them stay in peace.
Hooda owns the screen with his spontaneity and rustic appearance. His poor household doesn’t suffice for his magnanimity, but his actions do. From a heart-broken lover to a cunning fraud, he excels in every shade. His command over the local dialect and understanding of the neo-noir genre only helps his case.
It doesn’t take him a second to transform into a menacing blood theft mafia man from an affable neighbour. He cares for the people working for him, and runs a cartel that includes his former enemies. However, he won’t let out his biggest secrets to even his closest aides. In short, he is a chameleon.
Akshay Oberoi, Shreya Narayan and Piaa Bajpai have also done justice to their roles. Director Syed Ahmad Afzal keeps the audience at a distance and lets them observe the loneliness of Karnal’s sinister by-lanes where an overprotective goon is at work.
Laal Rang doesn’t delve deep into the criminals’ modus-operandi, but the two leads try their best to make up for the lack of the nitty-gritties.
Laal Rang has a shade grey and is much more high voltage than an ordinary thriller. Nobody could have played it better than Hooda. It’s his film.