By Manik Sharma Feb. 05, 2022
Time loop films have been around for decades, but Loop Lapeta’s biggest strength is its texture and directorial improvisation. It isn’t for everyone, but it sure as hell is fun.
Time loops, as a premise have been around for three decades now. From rom-coms, to wars, through spy intrigue the format has ably depicted stories that though unlikely by design are at least universally relatable. The idea that an alternative exists to our reality, is a perpetually rewarding notion that inspires fantasies, both social and political. Netflix’s Loop Lapeta, a remake of the iconic Run Lola Run takes the route of comedy of errors, in what is a dizzying two hours of entertainment. With dysfunctional characters operating at the edge of chaos, Loop Lapeta, though 20 minutes too long, is stylish, almost trippy to the point its transitions and camerawork leave you both giddy and in awe.
Netflix’s Loop Lapeta, a remake of the iconic Run Lola Run takes the route of comedy of errors, in what is a dizzying two hours of entertainment.
Loop Lapeta stars Taapsee Pannu as Savi, an addict smitten by the innocent charms of the underdog Satya (Tahir Raj Bhasin who is having a bit of a moment in Hindi cinema). Satya works under Victor, a deliciously brutal Dibyendu Bhattacharya, who tasks him with delivering a package. Satya has a gambling problem, a confidence, and pretty much all the problems that can make life hell for a man without any prospects. After he loses the package, Satya needs to find a way to repay his boss the 50 lakh that he is owed. Spurred by her inexplicable attachment to Satya, Savi sprints around the streets of Goa, at times confronting her father and other times fantasizing about other risqué plans. The only problem is, she wakes up to the same chaotic day, again and again, a day that ends in tragedy no matter what alternative she chooses.
Looop Lapeta does nothing that world cinema hasn’t done before but in the Indian context its novelty comes from the stylistic leaps it is willing to take.
Firstly, Loop Lapeta is intentionally scrambled to mime the chaos of fate running ahead of choice. It does nothing that world cinema hasn’t done before but in the Indian context its novelty comes from the stylistic leaps it is willing to take. Pulpy textures, loud colours and caricature-like characters could have easily diminished the rewards on what is essentially a punk version of Netflix’s own Ludo, but Loop Lapeta is commandeered home by better performances, and definitive clarity about the role direction plays in it. Tahir Raj Bhasin is excellent as the arch-loser alongside a typically steely Taapsee Pannu. The film is however stolen by the hilarious double act (Raghav Raj) and Pappu (Manik Papneja), two incompetent brothers trying to steal the jewellery shop they work in.
From tracking stone throws to flipping rooms and switching focus within a matter of seconds, Director Akash Bhatia brings an intoxicating platter of texture and movement rarely seen on screen.
Other than the performances that largely hit the mark, the easy-to-spot feature that makes the film stand out is the Directorial improvisation. From tracking stone throws to flipping rooms and switching focus within a matter of seconds, Director Akash Bhatia brings an intoxicating platter of texture and movement rarely seen on screen. So elastic and bright are the textures in the film it makes you wonder if a cinema hall full of unparticipating viewers would have appreciated the film even better. On a smaller screen, these flourishes look stylish, but ultimately restricted by the dimensions of the device. Bhatia mines Goa, its eccentric infrastructure and culture to good effect, especially in scenes where Pannu just runs and runs.
TIt’s not the first comedy of errors, not even the funniest to have been set in India, but it is, at least on a stylistic level, barnstorming fun.
The problem with looping films is that while we are expected to believe that our protagonist is learning the code to unlocking the loop with each iteration, there is never good reason to not abandon its eventualities. Simply refuse to play it. Some films, like the Final Destination franchise did tease this aspect by suggesting that the inevitable cannot be bypassed, destiny cannot be hacked into submission. Loop Lapeta doesn’t want to address such questions, and instead uses the trope to mime as much humour and dysfunction it can. The film is effectively a sketch, playing many times over, without wanting to say anything beyond the punchline. It’s entertaining, but also really hollow in what it leaves you with.
Loop Lapeta is an indicator that the kind of cinema Indians have yearned for and sought offshore may finally be coming to the country.
Loop Lapeta is an indicator that the kind of cinema Indians have yearned for and sought offshore may finally be coming to the country. It doesn’t add value as such, but for its purely dizzying, overwhelming experiments with space and speed, Loop Lapeta is a welcome first step in experimenting with form and style. It may still be too much for a theatre-going audience but the film’s pleasures, perhaps, are best experienced for their transience and not their longevity. It’s not the first comedy of errors, not even the funniest to have been set in India, but it is, at least on a stylistic level, barnstorming fun. Never a dull moment, for sure.
Manik Sharma writes on Arts and Culture.
He tweets at @Manik1Sharma