I had celebrated my Valentine’s Day in 2014 by watching Gunday (in the second show as I had got late for the opening show) without reading a single review of it and therefore without keeping any expectation in my mind while taking my seat in the cinema hall. And when I came out, I had a feeling of complete Paisa Vasool because I had seen a highly entertaining movie.
Gunday (hooligans) is a movie whose story is set in the late eighties but it’s absolutely a tribute to the Indian cinema of the seventies which shot Amitabh Bachchan to stardom making him the larger-than-life Angry Young Man. The story starts from the Indo-Pak war of 1971 which created Bangladesh. Two orphan children – Bikram (Darshan Gurjar) and Baala (Jayesh V. Kardak) struggled not only to survive but also to save themselves from the child-abuse of the corrupt militarymen around. Fate brought them to Calcutta and it’s here that the real story of Gunday starts.
These twosome understood that to fight against the odds and survive in the cruel world which labelled them as refugees and was not ready to embrace them, they had no option but to leave the straight path and take the twisted one making them as criminals. Starting from stealing 20 kg of coal, they grow up as the biggest mafia of Calcutta controlling the illegal trade of coal, timber and fish. It’s their daredevilry which fetches them heavy dividends. Bikram (Ranveer Singh) is more mature whereas Baala (Arjun Kapoor) is easy-to-provoke. But both are two bodies, one soul as far as the outside world is concerned until there comes the twist in the tale.
It is said that there are only three bones of contention in this world – Jar (wealth), Jan (woman) and Zameen (land). These two friends cannot be divided by Jar or Zameen. Finally a woman only had to be the bone of contention for these inseparable (eligible) bachelors. Enters a mysterious cabaret dancer – Nandita (Priyanka Chopra) which finally succeeds in dividing them because the girl is one whereas the boys are two. Besides, a hardcore and no-nonsense but still having a good sense of humor, cop Satyajeet (Irrfan) is also on their trail and is extremely happy to see that the Bikram and Baala have forgotten the ages-old maxim – United we stand, divided we fall. After some twists and revelations, the Gunday of this story, i.e., Bikram and Bala reach their inescapable destination.
As said earlier, this movie is a tribute to the Amitabh Bachchan style cinema of the seventies which was action-packed and anger-packed holding the system as the villain which directed the innocent individuals on the wrong path. Well, Amitabh Bachchan never had any need to bare his torso (he did not have six packs either) whereas the heroes of this movie bare their well-oiled torsos declaring themselves as the true disciples of Salmaan Khan.
Gunday is old wine in new bottle but this old wine renders a highly enjoyable kick to the consumer, i.e., the viewer. The first half proves damn engaging for the spectator and I did not have sense of time till the word – ‘INTERVAL’ appeared on the screen.
The story dips to some extent in the post-interval session but thank God, the script-writer and the director brought it back on track and ended it with a high-octane climax in a coal-mine at Dhanbaad reminding of the climax of AB starrer (and Yash Chopra directed) Kaala Patthar (1979). Finally, the movie does not leave any sense of dissatisfaction in the viewer. It’s a well made movie which adequately entertains despite certain flaws in the script and the presentation.
While choosing the garments for Priyanka Chopra, the director (with the dress-designer) comfortably forgot that the story is set in the eighties. The result is – she is found as clad in the outfits of contemporary fashion. It’s a glaring error.
The story is set in Calcutta but except the references to Howrah Bridge, Football and Hilsa fish and portrayal of Durga Pooja, the movie does not render any feeling of Calcutta throughout its duration (as it was there in Kahaani). Since I have spent a part of my life in Calcutta (now Kolkata), I can safely say that the director did not pay proper attention to this aspect of the screenplay.
The filmmaker has shown short-tempered Bala as the more innocent and clean-heart one whereas Bikram as the more sensible and mature one. But then why should Baala apologize to Bikram in the climax when the fault was not entirely his ? If at all, he’s to be apologetic, then Bikram should be equally apologetic because it’s he who had broken the promise made to his innocent and trusting friend (for the sake of the beautiful heroine) but till the very end, Bikram has not been showed to feel even for a moment that he had done anything wrong by breaking the promise and the heart of his closest friend without whom his life was incomplete and hollow. His attitude towards Baala is so casual that it renders the feeling of taking his trusting friend for a ride. Just because a person is less practical, should he be portrayed as the Sita-kidnapping Raavan and the so-called practical person should be termed as Ram ? Or getting the love of the heroine is the ultimate thing which exonerates the concerned male from all the errors and sins made by him ? Nandita’s calling herself as Sita while talking to Baala in a scene, is out and out ridiculous. By default perhaps, the director has raised the character of Baala higher than that of Bikram in the movie.
The plot of a very old Hollywood movie Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) has been hackneyed by the Bollywood filmmakers to the hilt. Still they do not appear to be cloyed with that. The producer of this movie – Aditya Chopra (under the Yash Raj Films banner) had used this plot for his seemingly terrorism-based movie New York (2009) but he has again used it for the script of Gunday. The difference is where the plot of New York is directly based on that of Angels with Dirty Faces, here it’s used only for the Priyanka Chopra track. It also reminds of the Aishwarya Rai track in Rajkumar Santoshi’s Khakee (2004). Well, the obsession of Hindi filmmakers with this story is strange but it’s a great tribute to the original stuff at the same time.
The complete movie is full of thick colors and adrenaline has been pumped right from the very start to the very finish. Action! Action! Action! And action along with the camaraderie of the two heroes (in childhood as well as in the adulthood) is the best part of this movie. It’s the romantic track of Bikram (Ranveer) and Nandita (Priyanka) which irritates and at least one song linked to their romance is utterly superfluous.
Gunday is a technically superior movie with a high production value. But the length is definitely on the higher side. A 15-20 minutes shorter version would have been crispier and better. Background score is very impressive whereas the songs perfectly suit the mood of the movie. They are well composed, well sung and well presented on the screen. The job done by the composer Sohail Sen is definitely commendable. Tunay Maari Entriyan Ki Dil Mein Baji Ghantiyan was topping the chartbusters at the time of the release of this movie.
Quite interestingly, Aditya Chopra has cast Irrfan in a role which is identical to his role in New York. Well, he is a very good actor who acts with a perfect body-language suiting his role. However his role is subdued here though he is narrator of the story. Priyanka Chopra is a good actress and she has tried her level best to do well here too. But the trouble is that her character itself is no better than that of a cardboard cutout. Frankly, Saurabh Shukla has performed much better than these two in his meaty supporting role of a lawyer who is the true well-wisher and guardian of the heroes. The child-artists playing the young Bikram and Baala are also very impressive in their act.
Finally, the movie belongs to the heroes who are the true and dedicated Gunday whose (joint) conscience does not allow them to take the straight path. Both Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh have excelled like anything. Dashing ! Macho ! Stylish ! They are the heart-conquerors. The biggest USP of this movie is these two heroes only. They have complimented each other very well on the screen and made a terrific male-pair.Gunday is a praiseworthy effort and it’s completely successful in its objective of entertaining the audience. Considering its entertainment value and mass appeal, I would have beeen surprised had it not scored on the box office. As far as myself is concerned, even before coming out of the theatre on 14.02.2014, I had lost my heart to Bikram and Baala, the fearsome yet childlike innocent Angels with Dirty Faces or Gunday, to be exact.
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