Why Randeep Hooda loves the Laal Rang

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Why Randeep Hooda loves the Laal Rang
Randeep Hooda

The Bollywood actor talks up his latest release which tackles a grim subject but is cloaked in Haryanvi humour

By Enid Parker

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Published: Wed 20 Apr 2016, 10:56 AM

Last updated: Sat 23 Apr 2016, 6:04 PM

Randeep Hooda is known for tackling diverse roles, having first charmed audiences over a decade ago as expat Rahul Chadha in Mira Nair's offbeat Monsoon Wedding.
After going on to star in versatile and critically acclaimed projects like Rang Rasiya and Main Aur Charles, where he portrays painter Raja Ravi Varma and convict Charles Shobraj respectively, he's now attempting perhaps the most complex role of all - playing himself, a Haryanvi Jat from Rohtak, Haryana, in this weekend's release, Laal Rang.
The actor was in Dubai recently to promote the film, which is a story of friendship, love and betrayal set against the backdrop of the infamous 'blood mafia' in the Indian state of Haryana. In a relaxed conversation with City Times at Le Meridien Airport Hotel, the actor explained why Laal Rang was a landmark in his career.
"I've played all kinds of characters, and I thought this one, being that I'm from Haryana, would be easy. But because I've lived in Bombay for 15 years, studied abroad, spoken different languages and used varied dialects in films - from Punjabi to Marathi to all kinds of English accents - Canadian, Australian, French, it wasn't easy as I thought it would be. I had to go back to my childhood and recollect my college and school days and this character emerges from somewhere in there. Shankar in Laal Rang is the most flamboyant character that I have played and in my journey as an actor this is definitely a landmark film, for what it says and the kind of film it is."
Laal Rang is laced with humour. It is based in Haryana, which is a state North West of Delhi, it has been a war zone for many years right from the Mahabharat, Kurukshetra, Panipat days. All the conquerors have come to India through there and it's a place which required a sense of humour for people to kind of deal with what was happening. The Haryanvi sense of humour is pretty famous all over India - it's the 'mast maula' the 'give a damn' kind of attitude people have in general and the offhand sense of humour, which is very attractive. 'Datto' in Tanu Weds Manu Returns, one of the most endearing characters in recent times in cinema, was so because she had the Haryanvi accent and the attitude which juxtaposed with other things became really funny.
Laal Rang deals with a very socially prevalent evil everyone brushes under the carpet which is the illegal blood trade. I didn't know a lot about it before I took up this film, the fact that it happens on such a large scale. It happens all across India but the story we've chosen is based in Karnal Haryana, it is the melting point between Punjab and Haryana. As I discovered, there is a rule in the blood banks that you have to replace blood if you take blood from them, you can't buy it. But the Indian mentality is that if you donate blood you'll get weak or your 'performance' will go down - there are all kinds of taboos traditionally linked with donating blood. What we Indians do (and we're all a party to it and we all need blood at some stage of our lives) instead of replacing the blood we buy it. That's where these blood mafia people come in, the blood 'touts' - so they'll sell you a unit, a pint of blood for say Rs5000 and then they'll go out and bleed a poor man who will donate blood for, like, Rs500, and then they'll replace it - so that's their profit. Rs500 is a packet of glucose biscuits - I mean it's the most heinous crime possible in the world.
Haryana has had a bad public image - people think it's only Khap (panchayat) and honour killings and female infanticide. So we made it a point to show the humour, the camaraderie, the kind of bonhomie these people share with each other, which is far more attractive than all that bull***t. Haryana is the most progressive state - but all those things are more in the limelight than the good things. So that is why I feel that this movie has come at a very opportune time. And I'm very glad that I'm a part of it, and since I'm a part of it I'm sure it will be more authentic than all these other films with all these other wonderful big stars (laughs).
I feel that you cannot preach anything - you can entertain people, engage them, and then they might take away something from a film. From a social point of view Laal Rang is very relevant, but it's also a good entertainer and that's why you should go watch it. It's the new commercial cinema, a journey we take you on with good music and visuals. Karnal in Haryana looks like it's in Spain. The cinematographer has done a great job. You'll laugh, and hopefully shed a tear or two. It turns into a thriller at the end.
Of course right now it's the movie which is, like, coming through my veins but I think my favourite 'laal rang' is perhaps a 'heart' ?
The colour red can evoke both anger and passion and I think I'm full of both. I hide it with my sense of humour (laughs).

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