‘Looop Lapeta’ Makes You Feel Like You’re Stuck in a Loop
The desi ‘Run Lola Run’ doesn’t bring the thrill of the original but its technical aspects are a saving grace
I approached Looop Lapeta on Netflix with mixed feelings for several reasons. One, I have seen too much of Tahir Raj Bhasin lately and I’m not impressed. Two, the film is a remake of Run Lola Run (1998). Tom Tykwer’s zippy German thriller remains a special, vivid memory even after so many years because it had a sensational soundtrack, kinetic energy and Franka Potente, as the breathless, skinny, red-haired Lola running across Berlin in her black Dr Martens, was crazy, adorable and fabulous. The desi version, I suspected, would be draggy and stuffed with the same-old Bollywood tropes.
Directed by Aakash Bhatia, Looop Lapeta is a bit blah and it has a sagging middle. Taapsee Pannu’s bun-braid-bizarre hairdo doesn’t add wacky, edgy spirit to her goody-goody Punjabi personality. Potente’s Lola was nutty; Pannu’s Savi is plain vanilla.
Yet, I enjoyed Looop Lapeta because of the very cool jugalbandi between Priyank Prem Kumar’s editing, Yash Khanna’s cinematography, and Rahul Pais-Nariman Khambata’s background score. It’s as if the director planned to conduct a trippy jam session with these four, and then, as an afterthought, added some actors to run about and do this and that.
The film opens on a very self-conscious note in Goa. A suicide is being attempted, a voiceover is spouting some angsty ‘life-is-so-meaningless’ babble, the camera is swooning around a girl and a pregnancy strip. It’s all very dull, but then the film breaks for credits—Debjyoti Saha’s animation of a girl running on a racetrack to rapper Hanumankind’s “Lola’s Chant”. The animation gives us Savi’s back story, but it is Hanumankind’s rap song that adds bounce to the film.
Looop Lapeta’s plot is a straight lift from Run Lola Run, but it has been desi-fried. Savi has 80 minutes to arrange Rs 50 lakh and deliver it to her boyfriend Satya (Tahir Raj Bhasin) who, we are told, is a bit of a moron with a ganja and gambling problem.
The money, in this case, belongs to Satya’s more-sleazy-than-scary boss, Victor (Dibyendu Bhattacharya), who will kill him if it’s not delivered to him on time.
The plot’s conceit in Run Lola Run was that there were three possible outcomes depending on how Lola negotiates this sprint, and all three scenarios played out one after the other. This artifice wasn’t explained, and yet it was all so compelling. Looop Lapeta offers a mythical explanation and yet the proceedings feel contrived.
In flashback, we see Satya narrating a story to Savi—of devoted wife Savitri bringing her husband back to life by tricking Yamraj. This could have worked if we had felt Savi’s love and her desperation to save Satya. We feel Satya’s love, but not Savi’s and are not invested in her desperate marathon three times over; that emotional disconnect is the film’s biggest flaw.
In fact, as the film progresses, the uncertainty about Savi’s actions deepens because at one point during her sprint she stops to advise a ready-to-take-vows bride to pick money and stability over love, leaving us wondering what that was all about.
As Savi sets out again and again on her mission, the plot gathers stray characters and some idiots. There’s a bumbling cop, a weeping taxi driver, Savi’s gym owner father, his boyfriend, and Appu-Gappu—the two dumb sons of a jewelery-store owner who are planning to rob their father. Played cutely by Manik Papneja and Raghav Raj Kakker, this skit reminded me of Beavis and Butt-Head.
Everything in Run Lola Run felt rooted. Lola belonged to Berlin. Looop Lapeta feels disjointed. To give the film a cool vibe, it is set in Goa. And while several things and characters seem to fit, Satya and Savi feel like they have been uprooted from some north Indian city and planted in Panjim. The other problem is that the three versions here are too similar and the film’s length is not in sync with the time Savi has to get the money to Satya.
Taapsee Pannu is not a bad actress. Sometimes she is quite good, as we’ve seen in Thappad and Manmarziyan. But her acting abilities are limited. Whatever little punch there is to her character in Looop Lapeta, it doesn’t come from her performance but from her hairdo and her dialogues that have the occasional “G mein d” type of phrases. Surprisingly, Tahir Raj Bhasin is quite good and carries his blank-face stupidity very well. Appu-Gappu are fun, but it’s their dad, played by Rajendra Chawla, who shines here.
Looop Lapeta, however, belongs to its technical team who, with their slo-mo shots, split screens, quick cuts to Savi running, Satya hyperventilating, the clock ticking, a turkey roasting, give the film a giddy tempo. The background score is truly one of the best in recent times, and, for a while during the film, I closed my eyes and just listened. It was a better visual experience than when my eyes were open.
Watch the trailer for Looop Lapeta below. Stream on Netflix.