The Underdogs – I don’t always root for the underdogs. I mean when Kenya plays Australia and wins, it’s not the best men who won, it’s the lucky ones. Why would I root for luck, rather than ability?
But sometimes being an underdog has nothing to do with ability. You just weren’t given the same chances. Like in Lal Rang. It is about people in a mufassil town with no money, who are happy if they get to be lab technicians. But they want more. The central character whom the movie follows is no hero. There are no heroes in Lal Rang, really. But first, the theme.
The rarest color of comedy in Bollywood is Black. When you are laughing but what’s happening is neither light, not happy. You still laugh because, well, because it is clever. Remember Jane Bhi Do Yaaron? It’s a tragedy that you can’t stop laughing at.
Lal Rang has hardly any joy. It has a dark red theme, and it is about an issue. It is about the buying and selling of blood in Haryana about a decade ago. There was a huge scandal and many lives were destroyed because the “donors” sold too much of their blood, and their blood carried several problems way too often. Already sounds like a boring, preachy movie, doesn’t it?
It isn’t. It never preaches, it just shows what happens. And it helps that it has a great actor at its heart. Randeep Hooda is the kingpin of the operation that steals, buys and sells blood. He manages a network of thieves, professional donors, lab technicians, and doctors, but he does it with ease, with a laugh and a kind word, he says that even when he has to beat up people, he’s never angry, he does it with affection. Hooda is a powerhouse. His energy keeps the film afloat and makes it almost possible to forgive everyone for their crimes.
Almost. Because you know that as you are following these guys, in the background are blood shortages, and a market full of desperate people being fleeced in their hour of need? There are no heroes in the Lal Rang.
But there are no monsters either. The guys are all too human, preoccupied with impressing girls, and fighting for their love. Ordinary people. This is the most human look at crime I can remember in recent times. It is brutal, gripping, dark, but funny at the same time.
And it is going to get totally and utterly overlooked. “Major” critics like Masand have not even seen it fit to review the film. The excellent music is not playing anywhere. There is no talk of Randeep Hooda winning awards, even though he deserves them all for this film. Lal Rang, with a newish director, no item song, no brand name star, and a basis in reality is the ultimate underdog. Not because it’s not good, but because the system is stacked against it. The Janata is not pulled into cinema because of raw quality. Even Badlapur and NH 10 needed stars to succeed.
So this is the underdog I want to support. Not trash like Fan, this is the kind of cinema we deserve, and we should fight for. Let’s do that, let’s just watch the film and fight for cinema’s underdogs.
Get real time updates about our posts directly on your device