Gunday: Brandishing an antiquated cinematic zeal
Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla, Irrfan Khan
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Director Ali Abbas Zafar’s sort-of tweaked reboot fashioned around the YashRaj ‘Kaala Pathar’ brand is not as passionate or exciting as the one that KJo’s team achieved with the ‘Agneepath’ remake. This one is not exactly a remake – it’s more like a re-run of scenes and sequences from Bollywood films of the 70’s, with a theme that runs rings around friendship, love and the metaphoric Kaala Pathar (coal).
The film starts off in stereotypical 70’s mainstream Bollywood fashion- only the setting is different. It’s the India-Pak war of 1971 where India humiliated Pakistan by enforcing surrender and liberating Bangladesh in the process. Two orphans, (best buddies) are sent to the Geneva Refugee camp in Dhaka, where they get exploited by a gun runner and a child molester and are forced to flee across the border into India, following a murder.
Once in India, the two are repeatedly humiliated with their nationality being questioned time and again. So they vow to become the richest and fiercest ‘resident’ criminals that Calcutta has ever seen. While in the process of that aim (with canny help from a local lawyer played by Saurabh Shukla), the two Bikram (Ranveer Singh) and Bala (Arjun Kapoor) also end up falling for the same woman- a cabaret dancer, Nandita (Priyanka Chopra).
The plot gets even more ridiculous with an ACP Satya (Irrfan Khan who is also the one narrating the story from the opening frame) getting his polished boots blackened by the soot, the two gunday’s generate. He is hot in pursuit and hopes to bring them to book by orchestrating enmity between the two and getting them into a feud-to-the death!
There’s absolutely no logic to what transpires on screen. The screenplay is totally ridiculous and the treatment (after a few spoofy, playful moments) goes skinny-dipping into a sea of nothingness. The characters don’t have a realistic bent. The dialogues re-envision absurd theatrics. The music while peppy and energetic when experienced on screen, doesn’t stay with you for more than a few minutes after the end.
Ranveer and Arjun obviously had little else to work on in terms of character study. Priyanka’s comely loveliness livens-up the love challenge and Irrfan Khan’s tempered grandstanding manages to make the over-the-top seem bearable. Saurabh Shukla, the gem of an actor that he is, manages to fit in even in this outlandish proposition. Unfortunately the wayward, meteorite ravaged script is just too much of a no-show to make anything matter.