by Amit Upadhyaya
Last year’s Aurangzeb was a terrific film because it could rework the Salim Javed+Yash Chopra tropes without compromising the story or the vision. A year later, the same producer gives a film that even starts off with a tribute to Yash Chopra. Only, the next couple of hours are anything but Yash Chopra-esque.
Gunday was probably never meant to be anything more than a fun and entertaining ‘masala’ film but this ends up being a bastardized version of Deewar+Sholay+Trishul+Kaala Pathhar. And a relentless one at that.
Since the plot is unoriginal (only, it begins with an ‘original’ reference to the Bangladesh Liberation War), it had to be the execution that had to work. Basically the stars had to work their magic and recreate the ‘bygone era of friendship’. They have, in fact, butchered the film (or whatever the director was trying to make) so badly that the film should serve as a reality check for other producers who want to venture into ‘masala’ projects with young stars.
The 1970s of the film appears as authentic as Ghajini or Gadar:Ek Prem Katha were realistic. The writing is as shallow as it could be. The direction, though, takes the cherry for worst performance. Ali Abbas Zafar has taken so many slo-mo shots of his leads, the footage can be used by gym instructors. The last 20 minutes of the film, in fact, is almost entirely in slow-motion.
Having said all this, some of the sequences do work because no matter how much you mess up the Salim-Javed formula, it still stands tall. It is only in the ‘dialoguebaazi’ that the film comes alive. The Mr India tribute was cleverly thought out too. Wonder where the cleverness went in the rest of the film!
Charisma, the one-word mantra for all stars including the (indispensable, apparently) Khans, is solely missing here. Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor have done reasonably good work before this film. It is, then, astonishing how they could give such a low-brow performance in the genre which they seem to enjoy, especially when all the ‘masala’ ingredients are there. Priyanka Chopra somehow salvages her scenes in the film, like her introduction.
And yet again, it is the I-snatch-away-films-from-others star Irrfan Khan who gets the star power, fun and ‘masala’ just right. Both the leads should’ve learned something from him.
Gunday was meant to be the first outing of the young stars in the ‘entertainment, entertainment, entertainment’ genre. The only thing that can be said after watching it – go back to the Khans, Kumars, Devgns. They can still carry off cheesiness and clichés irrespective of films. The young men need some time before they try their hand at this again.
(Amit Upadhyaya, an Allahabadi turning his nose up at all things Delhi, is a student of journalism at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. By his own admission, however, he tries to spend most of his waking hours over Bollywood – analyzing, watching, and planning future movies. He now has a gig as a sub-editor of the famous indie film website dearcinema.com)