To those that are wondering about comparisons between the big release of 14th February 2014, Gunday and the iconic Sholay, stop wondering. The only similarity is that both words are spelt with an ‘a’ and a ‘y’ – if you’re wondering whether today’s release is a bro-mance of that same calibre, cease your wondering. This film had too much of a lot of different things – too much over the top acting, too much snarling, too much sneering, too much running, too much bouncing of well defined pecs, too much teeth baring – alas too much of a letdown.
Rating – **
Film – Gunday (Release date-14 February 2014 )
Starring – Arjun Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Irrfan Khan, Surabh Shukla
Producer – Padam Bhushan, Aditya Chopra, Aashish Singh (Studio – Yashraj Films)
Director – Ali Abbas Zafar
Story/Screenplay – Ali Abbas Zafar
Music – Sohail Sen
The story is that of two boys who come over from Bangladesh during the 1971 war – these are Bikram and Bala – Bangladeshis who become refugees in Calcutta, who take to smuggling and thieving out of the necessity to survive. The young Bikram is rescued by Bala from a being molested by a pedophile army man – Bala shoots the man dead to save his friend. When the two are chased by soldiers they escape via a coal train into India. It is quickly established that Bala is the hot head and Bikram is the one with the brains.
The two grow up to be Calcutta’s biggest gangsters who are also well loved by the people because of their philanthropic acts (as an explanation for their supposed popularity we are shown some institution with the names of Bikram and Bala on it). Irrfan Khan is the police man brought in to catch these two supposedly deadly gangsters. Then there is Priyanka Chopra who is a cabaret dancer and both men proceed to swiftly fall in love with her.
One had far greater expectations from a film that starred Bollywood’s hottest new heartthrobs Arjun Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, and from Priyanka Chopra, but the movie disappointed at several levels: the story was implausible and the writing distinctly weak, the plot had too many holes and the characterizations too superficial to be likeable.
The dialogue is clichéd and largely banal and is spoken mostly in an over the top manner with consistently exaggerated facial expression: lots of baring of (admittedly beautiful) teeth, sneering and snarling. Amidst all this, Irrfan Khan was the one matter of fact and understated character – it was a relief each time he came on in the film. The highly talented Surabh Shukla is a waste in this film – he is supposed to be the lawyer of the Gunday’s but one wonder whether he’s actually doing the role of a chowkidar.
The romance, such as it was, if it was supposed to be playful, simply falls flat; it utterly fails to convince. All she seems to do on her days off is wander around the markets and all the boys seem to have to do is follow her around in silly shirts featuring hearts. Also if they are supposed to be these hotshot ‘gundays’ there is precious little gundagardi to show for it – and if they are into steel and mining and all, how come they live in some chawl-like hovel with a leaking roof?
Gunday a Period Piece? Not much
The bell bottoms and tight bush-shirts are much in evidence, and the occasional vintage car or two is thrown in for good measure; there is a song from Pakeezah in the background. But in little else is this Calcutta reminiscent of the early 80’s. Priyanka is supposed to be a cabaret dancer and her ‘cabaret’ is extremely modern – with her tiny hotpants, bustier, fishnet stockings and suspenders. I wonder what Helen would think of this portrayal of a cabaret artiste; something that she wrote the book on. And considering that the movie is supposed to be set in West Bengal, there is little of the local flavour or twang in the film.
The Boys and the Brormance in Gunday
So we know they are the greatest of buddies but they are seen to fall out at the weakest of provocations the supposed conflict is weak and contrived. The boys look very nice, with their tight shirts, the bulging biceps, acres of cleavage and perfectly waved hair.
And that brings me to one more thing that we see two much of in this film – Bronzer! Those manly pecs are forever shining with unnecessary amounts of bronzer! And whatever happened to chest hair! No Bollywood men seem to have any anymore – pity!
Gunday – The Music
I’m afraid the music of Sohail Sen failed to impress very much. Tu ne maari entriyan has a nice beat and Sufi track, Mann Kunto Maula, near the beginning of the movie, was probably the best of a rather lackluster collection of songs. The much hyped Salame Ishqum was a bit of a letdown as well.
The picturisation of the songs was the usual filmi masala style – but the most bizarre picturisation is that of Jiya, the romantic duet between Ranveer and Priyanka; it was befuddling – with the incongruous setting and completely outlandish outfits (what were they supposed to be dressed as?).
One does sincerely hope that next week’s offering, Highway will prove to be worthy of the effort one makes to get to the first day first show each week.
By – Reena Daruwalla
Videos and Images – YRF YouTube Channel