Reviewing the Reviews: Half to 3.5 stars for Gunday

17 Feb,2014

By Deepa Gahlot


Directed by: Ali Abbas Zafar

Starring: Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, etc 


Ali Abbas Zafar’s Gunday, a throwback to the style and storylines of the seventies, is a crowd-pleaser of a film that has got wildly mixed reviews, with ratings ranging from half to 3.5.


Those who grew up in the Bachchan era hated it others were kinder, but the consensus seemed to be that the film was dated and its young cast could not quite pull off the bromance.


Raja Sen of practically gnashed his teeth and called it hideous. “.. with a plot thinner than sliced cheese, hacky characters and actors who don’t know what to do with themselves. Ranveer and Arjun essentially play a couple of gangsters — and very repressed men in love with each other who get off seeing each other do Baywatch runs — who find everything going for a toss when a heroine walks in on them with their dhutis up. Neither is in love with the girl, but both overcompensate, playing a game of chicken as they clinch each other tighter. That, in a nutshell, is all there is to it.”


Shubhra Gupta of the Indian Express frowned, “Gunday’ is as generic as its name suggests: even that old phrase ‘luchchhe- lafangey’ had more character. In the name of plot, we get a mash-up of many popular blockbusters, several of them belonging to Yashraj, the producers of this one. In the name of acting, we get pumped up beefcake and one number plumped-lip eye candy. There are a few solid supporting acts, and they are the ones that keep you watching, but they get buried in the sludge. What you get is what you’ve been getting. Over and over again.”


Aniruddha Guha of Time Out wrote, “The last time a hero complained about the system, it was the 1990s and Sunny Deol films were in vogue. Gunday is set in such a time, you may say, but must a period film also resemble the cinema of its time? And if it has to, should it end up looking as stale and outdated? The train sequence in Sholay, for example, was more thrilling and better shot than in this 2014 film, where the two heroes fling men and break chairs while you notice the chroma screen in the background.”


Saibal Chatterjee of sneered, “The plot of Gunday kicks off from the violence that surrounded the creation of Bangladesh. But nobody expected the film be an illuminating history lesson about the subcontinent.  The snazzy pre-release teasers did however raise visions of a fast-paced, entertaining buddy flick set in the tumult of early 1970s Calcutta. Sadly, Gunday delivers only on bits and pieces of that promise.  A large part of the story actually unfolds in the mid 1980s but the film makes a complete hash of the period details.”


Anupama Chopra seemed to like it a bit more. “Gunday, directed and written by Ali Abbas Zafar, is an unabashed love letter to the 1970s, the height of our romance with Amitabh Bachchan’s Angry Young Man. A time when heroes, even if they were criminals, were honourable men. When friendship was bigger than love. When the system was always the biggest criminal. Though the story is set in the 1980s, Zafar recreates a classic ’70s vibe with punchy dialogue-baazi, scenes designed to make you applaud and a relentless background score by Julius Packiam that underlines every beat just in case you missed a high note. Gunday is all slow-motion and swagger…”


Nandini Ramnath of Mint commented: “…retro tribute that has most of the elements of the Amitabh BachchanShashi KapoorVinod Khanna cinema down pat: good-hearted heroes pushed by circumstance to the wrong side of the tracks, an ultra-glamourous heroine who might lose her nerve but never her poise, a hot-on-the-trail policeman, games of loyalty and betrayal, anachronistic period details, proper introductions for key characters, spectacularly staged action, a pre-climax loo break song sequence, and a pantomime of social commentary.”


Shubha Shetty Saha of Mid-Day wrote, “Looking at the positive side, the detailing to match the setting of the ’70s is commendable. Arjun Kapoor has an endearing smile, Ranveer Singh is earnest but then that is obviously not enough. In a world where the two main actors are grimacing and grunting, in the name of acting, and the lead actress is just busy purring and pouting, Irrfan stands tall with his obvious talent. Add to that, he looks so charming and fit in this film that it is difficult to take your eyes off him when he’s in the frame.”


Rahul Desai of Mumbai Mirror grumbled, “Most landmarks of Hindi cinema have invariably been buddy flicks. Though not always blessed with technical bravado, their hearts have been in the right place. Gunday fails to fulfill that basic aspect- leaving you mildly enraged with the hope of what could have been, especially given the inexhaustible resources at hand.”


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