Director: Raj and DK
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Dulquer Salmaan, Adarsh Gourav, T.J. Bhanu, Gulshan Devaiah, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Pooja A Gor and Satish Kaushik
Where: Streaming now on Netflix
Rating: 2 stars
Call it the trappings of being the best in your own forte or an extravagant indulgence gone wrong, but Guns & Gulaabs, the new Netflix series is disappointingly lacklustre and bleak in its credentials. It’s also a blatantly weak attempt at exploring a pasture that might be the area of expertise at the hands of more well-versed makers.
Showrunners Raj and DK alongwith writer Suman Kumar tread the Anurag Kashyap meets Quentin Tarantino meets Vasan Bala palette, which evidently seems sincere but diversions in the screenplay lead to Guns & Gulaabs being a complete letdown.
A seemingly straight-laced mechanic Tipu (an excellent Rajkummar Rao) wants to escape the clutches of the life of crime that his father lived. His only purpose is to win the love of the woman (TJ Bhanu) he fancies. Jugnu (Adarsh Gourav) is the clueless heir to revered cartel head Ganchi (late Satish Kaushik). He cannot impose the menace or the authority that his father holds. Arjun, (Dulquer Salmaan) a righteous police officer is tasked to maintain law and order in a lawless Gulaabganj. In the mix, there is Chaar Cut Atmaram (a sensational Gulshan Devaiah embodying Sanjay Dutt from Khalnayak), a contract killer who is ruthless yet hilarious. Watch the series, if you may dare, to know why. In addition, a host of supporting actors are thrown in the mix only to further crowd the already convoluted screenplay.
Cut across 7 episodes, wait, no, technically 8, since the final episode alone is over an hour and a half long in duration, Guns & Gulaabs gets excruciatingly exhausting. While there are minor respites with a repeated homage paid to the pop culture of the 90s that acts as a great digression from the constant violence that ensues before you, the novelty of that dies out sooner than anticipated.
The gnawing question that you’re left asking yourself as a viewer is what are these characters trying to essay or deliver differently than what we’ve seen before. The unfortunate bit is that if the indulgences are removed, the plot is very basic to say the least. So, the promise of something new itself goes out of the window. This could’ve easily been a standalone feature film. Sumit Arora’s dialogues do pack in the punch but they are nothing out of the ordinary.
Speaking of the performances, the show is possibly high up in the list of cinematic dwellings that waste the potential of its stars. Rao is fantastic as Tipu. He throws in a great mix of his earlier characters that range from Bareilly Ki Barfi, Ludo and a brief glimpse of Shaitaan, to the character. You have to be an ardent fan of the actor to really sit through the show. Same goes for Adarsh Gourav. He’s delightfully good as Jugnu but unfortunately wasted. Dulquer playing the good guy trope isn’t anything new. Unfortunately, his public image as an affable human being makes it hard for a viewer to even hear cuss words coming out of Arjun’s mouth. The worst fate is reserved for Gulshan though. As Atmaram, you aren’t entirely convinced of his motives and his character is demystified with the most insipid logic. The women (TJ Bhanu, Shreya Dhanwanthary and Pooja Gor) clearly have nothing to do in this largely men’s world. But none of the supporting cast members get a moment to shine or mark an impression.
At the end of Guns & Gulaabs, you are left asking yourself if it’s the length and nothingness of the show or the weight of your expectations from Raj & DK that wore you down. This one leaves a bitter aftertaste considering the makers have enjoyed the best success rate on Indian OTT, till date.