The German time-looping thriller Run Lola Run stuck to the clock. Over 80 precise minutes, director Tom Tykwer followed the flame-haired Lola as she sprinted through the streets of Berlin, trying to rustle up the money that would save her gangster boyfriend Manni from being killed. Each of Lola’s three attempts followed a similar pattern and each had three different outcomes – a feat possible because of cinema’s unique ability to expand and contract time.
Aakash Bhatia’s Looop Lapeta, an official remake of Run Lola Run, chucks out the stopwatch. Bhatia and co-writers Vinay Chhawal, Ketan Pedgaonkar and Arnav Vepa Nanduri pad the original plot with a contemporary riff on the legend of Satyavan and Savitri.
Not for nothing are the lead characters named Satya, after the prince who suffers an untimely death, and Savi, after the dutiful wife who persuades the god of death to revivify her spouse.
The Hindi remake, which is out on Netflix, is set in an off-kilter version of Goa. Savi (Taapse Pannu), a former athlete, is forced to hit the road once again to deal with her dim-bulb boyfriend Satya’s latest crisis. Satya (Tahir Raj Bhasin) has misplaced a bag containing Rs 50 lakh that doesn’t belong to him. Savi has three strikes to save Satya’s life.
Despite the amounts involved, it’s a low-stakes game. So light on its feet that it barely touches the ground to leave a mark, Looop Lapeta is anchored by a tonal consistency that is reflected across the performances and the film’s hyper-stylised look.
The well-matched leads have complementary nose-rings and an easy vibe. Taapsee Pannu and Tahir Raj Bhasin deliver some of their most relaxed performances till date. Among the wacky characters who come in Savi’s way or help her reach her goal are a pair of hapless jewellery store thieves (Raghav Raj Kakker and Manik Papneja) and a lovelorn taxi driver (Sameer Kevin Roy).
There are hat-tips to the French movie Amelie and Dev.D (Dibyendu Bhattacharya, who starred in Anurag Kashyap’s film, has a key role in Looop Lapeta). The vivid production design by Pradeep Paul Francis and Diya Mukerjea, casually chic costumes by Indrakshi Pattanaik and colour-coded cinematography by Yash Khanna are just what we need to stop looking at our own watches.
At 142 minutes, Looop Lapeta is more marathon than short dash. Bhatia makes sure to throw in infectious quirkiness and memorable miniaturised portraits to justify stretching a gimmick into a meditation on predestination and second and third chances. Among the movie’s most inspired moments is a direct tribute to the original production.
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