The idea of adapting the German cult classic Run Lola Run (1998) into a Hindi film is an audacious idea and, some might say, imprudent too. But the ideas of chance, rebirth and cycles—evidenced in the time loop construct—lend themselves to a very Indian mythology and philosophical culture.
To director Aakash Bhatia’s credit, he does adapt Tom Tykwer’s story. In Looop Lapeta (Netflix), Savi (Taapsee Pannu) has 50 minutes to find a huge amount of cash and save her debt-ridden gambler boyfriend, Satya (Tahir Raj Bhasin), from his boss Victor’s (Dibyendu Bhattacharya) wrath. A former athlete, Savi has to break loose of her intoxicated downward spiral, confront ghosts of her past and reach Satya before the chicken is cooked or someone dies. The clock resets after the first failed attempt. She has another chance to get this right.
Bhasin infuses Satya with a frenzy that flips between manic and mischievous. For all his bad decisions, he’s the endearing character. Pannu has plenty to do—from sprinting to figuring a way out of the loop. They share an easy banter, a lived-in ease.
This modernised adaptation (written by Bhatia, Vinay Chhawal, Ketan Pedgaonkar and Arnav Vepa Nanduri) relocates the setting to Goa but Savi is running. For some reason place names have been tweaked such as Mapusa is turned into Napusa. The colour palette leans towards greens and oranges and, in a further Indianisation, the romance between Savi and Satya, underlined by a legend from an Indian epic, is given greater heft.
Unfortunately, the 131-minute film forsakes the breathlessness of a race against time, so fervently executed in the original (a brisk 80 minutes) when Lola had 20 minutes to sprint through Berlin to save boyfriend Manni, by diverting attention to sidebar events. There’s Jacob (Sameer Kevin Roy), a heartbroken cab driver trying to thwart his girlfriend’s wedding, and a track about two Rosencrantz and Guildenstern-type characters Appu (Manik Papneja) and Gappu (Raghav Raj Kakker), who play bumbling jewel thieves.
The camerawork is dizzying, often up close. Against the vivid colours, graphic visuals and thumping music, you expect speech bubbles to pop out of the mouths of the characters. Banking on appealing to a generation with short attention spans and while distracting you with its visual whirl. Looop does enough to be distinctive from Lola, balancing style and quirkiness with the story’s essence and structure, even giving a passing homage to Franka Potente’s Lola.
In an interview to Guardian newspaper in 2021, Franka Potente, lead actress of Run Lola Run, said if there was a sequel she would “be up for a cameo. but I wouldn’t be running. It’s a different world today. I’d take an Uber.” Now that would change the game entirely.