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Friday, March 24, 2023

Gunday Movie Review

After the lukewarm response to the first mega release of the year, JAI HO, the audience have been craving for a full on Bollywood masala movie. Hence, our eyes are hooked on Ali Abbas Zafar’s GUNDAY, whose last directorial venture, MERE BROTHER KI DULHAN, also known as MBKD, earned great moolah at the box office, making it a commercial success. GUNDAY being a typical masala movie contrasts to MBKD which was a romantic comedy and was therefore, a risk for Ali Abbas Zafar. Thus, does the film deliver? Let’s analyse!

GUNDAY initially seemed like rehashed version of the evergreen classics, SHOLAY and KAALA PATTHAR, due to the strong bromance of Ranveer and Arjun which reminds one of Jai and Veeru, whereas the coal mining element portrayed in KAALA PATTHAR. Well, despite this initial impression, the movie does indeed take you by surprise, due to its twists and turns in the tale, as well as the power packed dialogues!

The movie is about how two childhood friends, Bikram (Ranveer Singh) and Bala (Arjun Singh) who *quickly* grow on to become the coal mafia kings, and the most feared Gundays (Outlaws) of Calcutta. Both, Bikram and Bala share a close bond with each other, until Nandita (Priyanka Chopra) a cabaret dancer who steals their hearts, and causes haywire in Bikram and Bala’s life, with the top cop Satyajit Sarkar (Irrfan Khan) adding more fuel to the fire!

The narrative, to a certain extent, is innovative. Despite some of the interesting yet predictable twists. The coal mafia’ element indeed seems to be inspired by Yash Chopra’s KAALA PATTHAR. In fact, the climax of the movie set in the coal mine, reminded me of Mr. Chopra’s movie, and I’m a huge fan of his movies, so it worked for me. The writer has successfully created a modern Jai-Veeru pairing with Bikram and Bala, which will surely set a trend! Moreover, the fact that GUNDAY was depicted over the Bangladesh Refugees during the 70s is a different angle, which has not exactly been exposed in Indian cinema.

One of the main aspects for a power-packed Bollywood masala film, is the soundtrack. Sohail Sen, who has successfully composed foot-tapping music for MBKD and EK THA TIGER, has struck a bullseye with the soundtrack of GUNDAY. The tracks: Jashn e Ishqa, Asalaam e Ishqum and Tune Maari Entriyaan have already become chartbusters. Zafar has managed to shoot the the songs exuberantly, which pleases the audience. However, I wish that the songs were moulded better with the movie itself, which would have made GUNDAY a lot more consistent.

After MBKD, one was expecting another rom-com from Ali Abbas Zafar. Nevertheless, directing a film of the contrasting genre to MBKD, seems to have done the trick. He has quintessentially encapsulated a 70/80s Calcutta, and reflected well on celluloid, In fact, its beauty reminds one of films like KAHAANI and PARINEETA. Not a bad job for his second directorial venture!

Like any other movie, there are several glitches. Firstly, the screenplay was stretched, particularly in the second half of the film. As such, the exceeding length could have been trimmed down, enhancing the movie’s excellence. Despite that, Aseem Mishra’s jaw-dropping cinematography is a visual treat, and seems as if one is watching a Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie.

Now on to the performances. Both Ranveer and Arjun exhibit their respective roles with perfection. Their chemistry is so strong, which makes the characters of Bikram and Bala more realistic and excel majorly as actors. Undoubtedly, they are the Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan of the modern generation. Priyanka Chopra does well as the risqué Cabaret dancer, Nandita. Her seductive performance in Asalaam e Ishqum reminds one of her acclaimed performance in Ram Chahe Leela of Bhansali’s GOLIYON KI RAASLEELA…RAM-LEELA. Irrfan Khan was his usual self in essaying the ‘no nonsense’ cop role of Satyajit Sarkar. While watching him, it reminded me of his role in NEW YORK, which was superb. Anant Sharma, who portrays the villainous role of Himanshu was also fantastic. Saurabh Shukla, as Kaali kaka shined throughout the movie.
A special mention here to the children, Darshan Gujar and Jayesh Kardak who essay the roles of young Bikram and Bala, respectively. They performed intricately and naturally at a young age. Fantastic!

On the whole, GUNDAY is like a 70s Bollywood masala movie, which has songs, action, romance… Hence, it’s full of entertainment, entertainment and entertainment. The strongest point of the film is the performances of superstars: Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor. Their Gundagardi will conquer your heart and sweep you off your feet. A recommended watch!

* * * .5 (3.5/5)

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Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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