Supporting cast easily outruns its leading pair – Taapsee Pannu, Tahir Raj Bhasin, fine cinematography, music but the biggest hurdle to the Netflix film is the average screenplay
Rating: 2 / 5
It was early this week that a prominent business news publication did a fine podcast on Netflix’s struggle to grow in India. As objective as that podcast was, we still felt that Netflix India had turned the corner slightly in the last couple of years with engaging content like Aranyak , Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl , Axone , Ak vs Ak  .
A week later, Netflix released Looop Lapeta  and the examples above are beginning to look like a distant memory. Mind you, Looop Lapeta isn’t a poor film, but it’s another below-par desi content from Netflix India.
Director Aakash Bhatia’s Looop Lapeta is the Hindi remake of Tom Tykwer’s acclaimed thriller Run Lola Run . We haven’t seen the German film yet, but only read about it. Well, that saved us from the common Indian criticism of a desi remake not being as good as the original. The Hindi remake has retained the core plotline, added few layers to it, mostly cosmetic though.
Set in Goa, Savina aka Savi Borkar [Taapsee Pannu] faces a race against time to arrange for Rs5 million to save her gambler boyfriend Satyajeet aka Satya’s [Tahir Raj Bhasin] life. Much like the original, the Hindi remake, too, rides on the probability theory to the conflict at hand.
Whilst there is no cap on the number of creative hands, but it is a tad surprising to see four hands at work for an adapted screenplay. The first being one Dr. Vinay Chhawal, followed by Ketan Pedgaonkar, director Bhatia and Amav Vepa Nanduri. Was this a collaborative effort from the onset or were few hands roped in later to better the screenplay? Well, only the quartet can answer that.
While the title is brilliant (the three Os are not due to numerology) but the average screenplay breaks the deal here. Non-linear story-telling is still relatively new to the simple desi audience but it’s a concept that’s been tried and tested far too often globally. Hindi cinema had seen a similar tale of probabilities in Amit Kumar’s dark thriller Monsoon Shootout . Though critically acclaimed, but the limited theatrical release, and the limited attendance, was a reminder of the challenges non-linear stories have in desi market. Your reviewer firmly recalls a teen (boy) mocking the film saying, “Lagta hai, yeh toh saala rewind button daba diya” (Looks like they have pressed the rewind button]. The young men laughed off and they left the theatre shortly after the interval break.
Looop Lapeta is perhaps lucky to have a digital release. However, unlike, Monsoon Shootout which was an out and out dark thriller, Looop Lapeta has some fine humour going for it. And it’s not the leads, but the supporting cast that deserves credit. More on them later, but in the context of Run Lola Run, Looop Lapeta, the different probabilities are reflective of the human mindset when confronted with a conflict. The bigger the problem, the more likelihood of a person taking an impulsive decision, one that is likely to complicate matters further. The Tykwers, Bhatias, and Kumars throw up different probabilities, each borne out of individual choice. What we choose decides our destiny – for good or bad.
While Looop Lapeta mirrors Run Lola Run’s spirt, but an average, hushed screenplay, loose direction breaks the deal for the remake. Bhatia and his writers were perhaps lost in their own loop failing to troubleshoot the error in their loopy screenplay. A sense of sanity prevails in the final sequence but it fails to repair the early damage.
For a Goan character, Taapsee Pannu yet again fails to curb the Delhiite in her. In late December, we saw Pannu’s Rashmi Rocket , where she showed familiar frailties. The sports film had her playing a runner. Unfortunately, that Rashmi Rocket recoiled, travelled horizontally and perhaps hit Taapsee on the knee in Looop Lapeta. There’s never doubting her potential, but perhaps the lady needs to be more convincing in such roles. The flat showing reflects poorly on her directors too. For a righteous character, Savi eventually goes against her beliefs that trigger a change in her character arc. The Savi family conflict might please liberals but vis-à-vis the original plot, this liberal change is purely cosmetic. That is often the bane of Hindi remakes.
Tahir Raj Bhasin has largely struggled post his Mardaani  days. The [presumably] pierced nose give him a partly different look, but another inconsistent show leaves us frustrated. Satya’s only likeable when he breaks into that boyish, gambling smile.
While the leads are below par, it’s the few members of the supporting cast that hold fort for Looop Lapeta. Rajendra Chawla is hilarious as the stingy scheming Punjabi jeweller Mamlesh Charan Chaddha. Blessed with eyes of a hawk, and an elephant memory, he easily unmasks the identity of the novice thieves that turn up to rob his store. Chawla brings his natural Punjabi humor to the fore. He regales in the ego, stinginess and wit of Chawla. His dim wit sons Appu [Manik Papneja] and Gappu [Raghav Raj Kakker] are equally amusing. Papneja’s self-plotted kidnapping, the selfie-ransom call and the subsequent mumble-jumble is hilarious to watch.
Shreya Dhanwantary finds herself playing the bride Julia, who is arranged to be married to one Robert [Alistar Bennis]. (Bad pun on the famous American actress). The lady though can’t get over her love Jacob [Sameer Kevin Roy], who is naturally heartbroken. Though a cameo, but Dhanwantary is head and shoulders above the lead protagonist. She is brilliant in the monologue sact with Taapsee Pannu watching the intense performance few yards away. Bennis and Roy are the only actors who stay true to their Goan characters. The heartbroken cabbie Jacob invariably bears a frustrated look throughout this Looop Lapeta cycle(s). Save the speeding bit, we really liked Roy’s performance.
Dibyendu Bhattacharya looks menacing as Victor, Satya’s gangster boss but lacks the requisite intensity to play an intimidating character. Victor, however, has a likable shade to him. Here’s a dangerous Goan man who priorities a therapy session over business. In the end it turns out that the Goan gangster hasn’t had a drop of alcohol for a year. So unlike a Goan. His final drive is dramatic but it reaches the desired destination. All these characters are part of the loop that binds the core story.
Looop Lapeta shines for its fine cinematography. You don’t want to take your eyes off the opening 30 minutes where cinematographer Yash Khanna and his team work their magic over. The film scores on its production design too. Savi’s restroom in her pad is the hub of the loops. The green wall tiles and the designs of the restroom are very immersive. So, too its background score, and the title track is a real killer. Interestingly, while the prime vocalist sounds feminine, but the singer credit has two masculine names – Jay Anand, Sidhant Mago. The Looop in Looop Lapeta is entrenched intelligently in Mayank Mehra’s lyrics.
Run Lola Run and its Hindi remake are symbolic of circle of life. It reminds us how one moment can change your destiny. In the end, all of us are connected in some way or another. It’s the path that we take that determines our destiny. It’s our choice that shapes our Looop Lapeta. Unfortunately, for Aakash Bhatia, this Looop Lapeta is entangled in Bloop Lapeta.
Watch the trailer of Looop Lapeta below.