Gang Leader review: Fun, watchable but offers nothing new
Gang Leader is a crime thriller laced with comedy elements is exciting on paper but the same has not been translated onto the screen.
Critic's Rating: 2.75/5
Friday 13 September 2019
Nani, Karthikeya, Priyanka Arul Mohan, Lakshmi, Saranya, Aneesh Kuruvilla, Priyadarshi, Raghubabu, Vennela Kishore, Jaija, Pranya, Sathya
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In a complete departure from his style, director Vikram Kumar of Manam and Ishq fame, has narrated a crime story woven with comedy. The film begins on a rather interesting note - first setting up the robbery, killings and a grandmother bringing four women and we don't get to see the face of the protagonist till the first half hour. There are no build-up scenes either for hero Nani's introduction. It gives us the impression that we are watching Vikram Kumar's finest work. But the joy is short-lived.
Soon after Nani comes into the picture, it shifts its tone to comedy. The revenge theme turns into a comedy. Even after all the characters are introduced, their motives are established, and the villain is revealed, the narration moves in a circle, not moving further.
By intermission, it becomes pretty clear that the story doesn't offer further twists. Finding the villain and taking revenge is the sole mission. The second half turns into a hodgepodge of family sentiment, comedy, crime, revenge and romance.
A writer known for copying stories from other material landing in a real-life situation where he needs to use original thoughts is an exciting idea on paper. Five women trying to take revenge using the ideas of this writer who built his career on plagiarism must have made Nani kicked about. But as a film, Nani's Gang Leader has not moved beyond that exciting single-line of an idea. Though the film begins with a note that the story is based on some real-life incidents happened in 2005 in Andhra Pradesh, the story seems out of place for the current times. Who reads crime novels in Telugu today? The culture of reading novels or novelists gaining popularity had ended long back in the 90s. Hence, Vikram Kumar's basic plot looks out of the place in today's times. To be fair, there are some interesting sequences in the first half. It is the second half, that is a major concern.
Nani has done justice to his role as a novelist. But the role is a cakewalk to him, so easy for him to essay this simple comic role. RX100 fame Kartikeya as a villain is apt. He gets more marks as an antagonist. The entire ensemble cast that includes senior actresses like Lakshmi and Saranya are true to their characters and have given neat performances. New actress Priya Arul Mohan is like girl-next-door. The romantic track between Priya and Nani is old-fashioned. Vennela Kishore as a gay security person has tried his best to provide laughs but the gay comedy is cringe-worthy. Priyadarshi appears in two scenes. Of the songs composed by Anirudh, Hoyna and Ra Raa have made an impact. Cinematography is top-class. Production values are decent.
As a writer and director, Vikram Kumar has disappointed again. His screenplay writing this time lacks clarity.
Gang Leader, a crime thriller laced with comedy elements is exciting on paper but the same has not been translated onto the screen. This is a film that runs on a predictable arc throughout, with a hurried and regular climax.