Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar
AUDIENCE ATTENDANCE: Full house
RESPONSE: They clapped, they laughed and
they clapped again!
Bromance that takes you
back in time!
The film starts in war-torn Bangladesh in 1971 when Bala (Arjun Kapoor) meets Bikram (Ranveer Singh) and the two have to smuggle guns to make both ends meet. Bala then saves Bikram from a pedophile and the two hide in the coal container of a freight train to escape. Once in Calcutta, they live by the coal (literally), looting freight trains and living the Robin Hood life, thus becoming gunday – hence the name of the movie. Their ‘Jay-Veeru’ friendship gets a jolt when they meet a beautiful cabaret dancer Nandita (Priyanka Chopra) and fall in love! There is another angle in the story – India’s finest ACP Satyajit Sarkar (Irfaan Khan) is on their trail and if his bullet won’t kill them, love might.
What I was expecting…
From the look of the poster, one thing was certain – Gunday would be made in the mould of Sholay and that’s exactly what it turned out to be. There are train sequences that remind you of Sholay, coal-related scenes straight from Kaala Patthar and action happening in the universe where Amitabh Bachchan reigned with hits like Deewar, Shaan, Coolie and Mard. To live in that world, you have to speak the hard-hitting dialogues that made Vijay the most loved Indian in those days and the script writer doesn’t fail in recreating the magic.
What I wasn’t expecting…
The lead actors – the two gunday and their pursuer – did a decent job. Irfaan Khan didn’t have a ‘special appearance’ as mentioned in the credits since it was his voice over that started it all, and he was always around the koyle ki kaan se niklay heroes! His ACP Sarkar is calm even when Calcutta is burning, he is cool even when a bullet misses him and above all, he doesn’t look like he is acting … just going with the flow and excelling with every frame.
Two-film old Arjun Kapoor and 4 and a half-film old Ranveer Singh come into their own as ‘angry, very angry’ young men who love and fight with their hearts and use their minds when the need arises. The once-sexy Priyanka Chopra may have turned some heads but she clearly looks older than the two and seemed a misfit, especially to those who haven’t been her ardent admirers. I don’t know why Yash Raj executives didn’t think of using a newcomer in her place, because after Barfi, she should be choosing roles that suit her, not every role that is offered to her. Saurabh Shukla as Kali Kaka is wasted while the two kids playing the younger versions of Bala and Bikram must be commended for giving credible performances.
What I did experience …
What made the movies of the 70s and 80s better than the one being produced in India now … their dialogues. You get your money’s worth with dialogues like ‘Agar jigar ki jagah jigar hai aur jigar mein dum hai … toh rok le aake’ and ‘Pistol ki goli aur laundiya ki boli jab chalti hai … toh jaan dono mein hi khatre mein hoti hai’. There are more … when the dynamic duo threatens the competition ‘Aaj jo koyle se bhari is train ko lekar nikal gaya, Train bhi uski aur koyla ka dhandha bhi uska’, informs the police officer ‘Hum poore Calcutta ke, poora Calcutta humara’, talk about their lady love ‘Wo chahay gi jiska banna, wohi banega Rajesh Khanna’, or give each other intelligent advice like ‘Maarne se aadmi bada nahin banta, dimaag se banta hai’. There is an interesting dialogue related to football and Bengalis which some might enjoy.
Those backing the police (trust me, there are many) would applaud when Irfaan Khan introduces his character ‘Har aag ke liye paani ka hona zaroori hai aur is kahaani mein sailab main hoon’, tells his fellow policeman ‘Newton Baba ka ek law hai ki, har action ka ek equal and opposite reaction hota hai’ or gives advice ‘Chot khaya dost dushman se zyada khatarnaak hota hai.’ Want more? Watch the movie.
What I will never forget …
1980s was the era when anything was possible in India. Gangsters were considered the saviors of junta and the politicians were detested. Hence it was no surprise when the director chose Calcutta of that era as a setting for his flick. The masterstroke was the resurgence of the ’80s icon Bappi Lahiri who delivers ‘Assalam-e-Ishqum’ as a duet and ‘Tu Ne Mari Entrian’ with the singers of today. The music director Sohail Sen could have done a better job than simply getting inspired from ‘Kamli’ (from Dhoom 3) for ‘Assalam-e-Ishqum’ but the producer Aditya Chopra must be behind it. At times, Julius Packiam’s background score reminds one of ‘spaghetti westerns’ where Ennio Morricone’s themes reigned supreme.
An ode to Sholay and Co.!
Gunday pays tribute to Salim-Javed’s Bollywood classics Sholay, Deewar, Kaala Patthar, Mr. India and others. The writer-director Ali Abbas Zafar tries well to weave a magic like the dynamic duo of the 70s and the 80s. There are a couple of twists in the tale too but hey, without them the film would have only been a rip-off … we don’t pay to watch rip-offs, do we? So if you are an ardent fan of the ‘Angry Young Man’, love the cinema of the 80s and believe that good dialogues make a good film, you will go and watch Gunday since it has not one but two young angry men … Angootha laga doon?
The writer works for Geo TV and can be contacted at [email protected]