Film Review: Looop Lapeta: An “o” too much

The Hindi version of 'Run Lola Run', with more characters, subplots and backstories, gets flabbier and lengthier but is intermittently enjoyable

Film Review: Looop Lapeta: An “o” too much

Namrata Joshi

In Tom Tykwer’s 1998 film, Run Lola Run, the titular character Lola’s (Franka Potente) boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) asks her, “what if I die?”, to which she replies, “I won’t let you die”. Aakash Bhatia’s official Hindi adaptation of the popular German thriller, Looop Lapeta, Indianizes it with an obvious reference to the Hindu legend of Savitri and Satyavan and how she snatches her husband from the clasp of Yama, the God of death, with quick thinking. The film doesn’t just name its central characters Savi (Taapsee Pannu) and Satya (Tahir Raj Bhasin) but gives a clever sanskari underpinning to their otherwise wild, hedonistic world of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Bhatia sticks to Run Lola Run’s core device—ie Satya misplaces a bagful of money that he has to deliver to his boss, and Savi has to run all the way to help him find ways to get the Rs 50 lakh back. Three different alternatives of the same situation are played out, with a handful of characters, events and motifs that are in common in all the versions. However, small changes in the narrative in each of the three, results in widely varying consequences. Within the overall circuitous presence of time, Looop Lapeta, with a deliberately added “o” to the spelling of loop, keeps going back and forth—from the present to past and back to the present—in each of the three narratives.

From what I remember of the German original, it was a terse and exhilarating ride of about an hour and a half that kept me on the edge of the seat. To reach out to the masses, Bhatia stuffs up the Hindi version with lot many more characters and subplots, backstories and explainers and all possible masalas—comedy, emotion, action, songs, romance—making it shed the essential ingenuity and the lean dynamism that helped propel the original and, instead, gain in flab and length, with a run time of well past two hours.

The film overdoes it on several counts. While retaining the split screen montages and animation and other visual flair of Run Lola Run, Looop Lapeta goes a little too wild with the stylized sets, lengthy voiceover and fluorescent shades of green, red and orange. Its suffused and saturated with colours that often end up hurting the eye with the dazzle.

Every secondary, tertiary character is “quirky” and seen through a standardized wacky lens—be it the silent, old man that Savi is caregiver of, or Victor (Dibyendu Bhattacharya), the alcoholic, turkey making restaurant owner and boss of Satya, the cop chasing Savi, the guy with the dreadlocks in the bus, the jeweller Mamlesh Charan Chaddha (Rajendra Chawla) or the two bumbling sons Appu (Manik Papneja) and Gappu (Raghav Raj Kakker), who are intent on looting him.

Having said so, Looop Lapeta is intermittently enjoyable in its own limited context. The actors coast along well in their characters with Taapsee at the centre holding the show together in a firm grip. While Tahir is reduced to a bit of a sideshow here, there’s something utterly likeable about the other romance on the sidelines—between the taxi-driver Jacob (Sameer Kevin Roy) and Julia (Shreya Dhanwanthary).

Shreya might have just one long monologue of consequence to deliver as the confused bride about to marry the boring call centre executive Robert (Alistar Bennis) instead of the man she loves but she digs into it and makes it funny and heartfelt and memorable, all at the same time. The short skits of Appu and Gappu—specially on cab aggregator Lola and cursive handwriting—also hold their own and offer a sunny and silly diversion from the core.

The film is clearly set and shot in Goa. It’s evident even in the music but the names of places and landmarks get deliberately changed—Tandovi river, Paula Dona, Napusa. Feeble fictionalizing?

There’s a fleeting nod to Tykwer’s original with a red head passing by Savi in a casino, but the Hindi film also mines the original’s theme of destiny, coincidences, self-will and cause and effect. There’s liberal dose of philosophizing thrown in, right from the first shot—you get the ability to make good decisions from experience and experience is nothing more than learning from your bad decisions. That life changes, all it can take is a day. And that a new day that could bring in something good in life, so it is better to start life afresh than end it.

Ultimately, it all boils down to taking things in your own control than letting coincidences guide life. It’s about returning to the family; however dysfunctional it might be. It’s about the father Borkar (KC Shankar) reconciling with his daughter Savi and she, in turn, accepting his choices in life. The daughter says sorry, father admits being proud of her and together both agree on trying to work at their relationship. What could be more important than loving your family? Or, as the film itself puts it, being “painkillers” for each other’s “badgered souls”.

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