Guddu Rangeela opens promisingly. A pair of small-time crooks moonlighting as a pair of small-time entertainers double-cross…no, triple-cross the professional hoodlums who hire their services. It’s a terrific, hilarious opening, and sadly, little that follows lives up to it.
Writer-director Subhash Kapoor borrows elements from Ishqiya and Sholay, then dunks them in a vat of 80s-style revenge drama to give us what can only be described as a schizophrenic film.
But the movie coasts along nicely in its first hour when it’s mostly a rollicking adventure between our protagonists Guddu (Amit Sadh) and Rangeela (Arshad Warsi), who’re petty criminals out of necessity not choice. When they reluctantly agree to kidnap a rich man’s daughter in exchange for a massive payday, it turns out the young lady in question (Aditi Rao Hydari) isn’t as innocent as she seems. Now the duo teams up with her to take down their common enemy, village bully Billu Pehalwan (a snarling Ronit Roy), who dutifully dispenses the brutal justice pronounced by the local khap panchayat.
The film suffers on account on its wildly inconsistent tone, and its inability to decide what it wants to be – a light-hearted comic caper, a vendetta saga, or social commentary. There are way too many loopholes in the script, and in drawing from a real-life honor killing case, Kapoor only manages to trivialize a serious issue. The women in the film are completely underutilized, particularly the lovely Aditi Rao Hydari, who deserved better.
Of the principals, Amit Sadh has a nice rakish charm, and Warsi, expectedly, is better as the older and wiser of the two. Ronit Roy is appropriately menacing as the chief antagonist, but I’m tired of seeing him do the same shtick in every film. The scene-stealer here is bit-player Rajeev Gupta in the part of not-so-bright constable Gulab Singh, who gets some of the best lines and a clever antakshri scene.
Guddu Rangeela has flashes of the originality we saw in Kapoor’s earlier films Jolly LLB and particularly Phas Gaye Re Obama. But it’s weighed down by a lousy script that squanders all potential. I’m going with two out of five.