The film is set in the ‘80s, borrows from films of the period, and ends up becoming quite ike films from that time.
We see two kids, one a super-angry sort and the other slightly calmer. Improbable from the start, the film shows the two exchanging a smile before taking a gravity-defying jump into a train carrying coal – their first robbery.
From then on, it’s bromance unlimited. The mini-gunday grow up to be very sexy grown-up gunday who wear their shirts gloriously unbuttoned, wear their trousers snug, and wrestle in mud. While Ranveer Singh moves in slow-mo, his hair assuming a life of its own, Arjun Kapoor matches step with that dimpled smile. The unbuttoned shirts come off completely when the two are having a hand-to-hand combat. Yup, there’s loads of eye-candy, here.
And then there’s Priyanka Chopra who plays a feisty cabaret dancer who is surprised that both these friends have fallen for her. They trail her and toss a coin to see who’ll “line maaro” her first. And refreshingly, they leave the decision to her. Now, that’s a first for Bollywood that usually disregards the heroine’s choice.
The two gunday are Robinhoods of sorts we’re told, so they’re real popular with the regular folk in the city, running hospitals and schools for the underprivileged. That’s the reason the police hasn’t been able to find a shred of evidence against them so far.
So when Irrfan Khan strides in playing the ‘cool Bollywood cop’, you know where things are turning. He attempts to break the two friends apart, and because he uses his mind to get what he wants, we see him play chess (yup, they still use this cliched symbol).
The film scores low on the predictable story and the dozens of clumsy portions that inhabit the film.
Like the scene where a character is giving a live performance in a theatre, which could have been a very interesting moment, but turns out to be awkward. Again it’s unlikely that the two gangster kingpins would behave like naive, giggly schoolboys in the presence of their crush, and that she would have the guts to go to their home to confront them (she doesn’t display a shred of fear or hesitation).
The recreation of old Calcutta is sketchy. Despite the visual beauty of the Durga puja, shots of Howrah bridge etc, you don’t really get the feel of Calcutta down to its soul. Ditto the ’80 period details – most of which are obvious (popular songs, film posters and the like).
Director Ali Abbas Zafar (Mere Brother Ki Dulhan) picks up references from several films including Sholay and Kaala Patthar, but in the end, Gunday falters unforgivably.
There are some spectacularly daft moments in the film, that make you wonder whether the director was attempting a fantasy where anything goes or a realistic story of two boys revolting against the system.
The film’s strongest point is the cast. Ranveer and Arjun may not have the magical chemistry of Amitabh-Dharamendra from Sholay (one gets the feeling the film was trying to recreate that kind of bond), but they boast of a new equation. Whether they’re wearing the matching shirts with identical heart shapes on them, giving synchronized smiles, and getting goofy in the presence of the girl— they’re incredible to watch.
Priyanka Chopra brings a lot of sincerity to her role that is as complex as it is improbable— a tough act. Irrfan Khan is dependably masterful.
The film is watchable, yes, but less for the unimpressive story and mainly for the Ranveer-Priyanka-Arjun combo. And it’s well worth the effort!
Rating: Three stars