Subhash Kapoor’s Guddu Rangeela, about two small town band-walas who moonlight as crooks, stars off with promise. Guddu (Amit Sadh) and Rangeela (Arshad Warsi) are seen performing at a Visa Celebration Night – the party is celebrating a local moneybags’ son getting a visa to Kenya. Guddu’s bling band-man jacket is emblazoned with ‘Being Hanuman’. In the next scene saffron clad sadhus are seen playing football and then goons wearing Maradona and Messi masks are seen robbing a house. You believe you are in for a quirky, fun ride with some social comment on honour killings.
But Kapoor’s script begins to seesaw and then spiral downwards with a number of side plots and digressions, including a sermon aboutkhap panchayats and their inhuman ways delivered by a female victim. All this happens even as Guddu and Rangeela, desperately in need of some big bucks, take on a seemingly straightforward kidnapping case. But there’s more to the victim, Baby (Aditi Rao Hydari), than meets the eye. It turns out that Baby and Rangeela both seek vengeance on the same person, local heavy Billu Pahalwan (Ronit Roy). As one character says, “Crime mein personal touch aa jaye toh crime passionate ho jata hai”.
At the base of all this drama, corruption, crime and passion, is Kapoor’s commentary and criticism of the khaps and their total disregard for any other law but their own. Billu is entrusted with enforcing their rulings, which mainly seems to be honour killings. Guddu Rangeela is said to be based on the real life story of killing a Manoj and Babli, a married couple from Haryana. Rangeela is Manoj in this story, and Babli, his wife, has apparently been shot dead by Billu. Rangeela has spent a decade trying to get justice. Baby has her own axe to grind with Billu. In between all this revenge plotting, a contrived love story develops between Guddu and Baby and all this culminates into a Sholay-style dusty guns and goons battle with a tinge of 2008 Hollywood comedy ‘Tropic Thunder’ as heavily armed Dibyendu Bhattacharya and Brijendra Kala come dressed in combat fatigues!
Ronit Roy plays to his typecasting as the snarling bad man with no shades of grey. Sadh and Hydari bring little to their parts leaving it to Warsi to hold it all together. Amit Sial and Rajiv Gupta add sound support as a corrupt DSP and his deputy with a spluttering conscience, respectively.
After Phas Gaye Re Obama and Jolly LLB you expect greater maturity and solidity in a script written and directed by the National Award winning Kapoor. While his control on the actors and creation of the milieu might be commendable they cannot overcome an over-engineered story which is fun in parts but does not deliver on its initial promise.