Movie Review: GUNDAY (2014)
While there have been successful period films, or throwbacks to classic genres (like ROWDY RATHORE), it’s a tricky genre considering the filmmaker really has to tow the line between keeping all aspects of that period in place, while preventing those aspects from overwhelming the film. GUNDAY heavily suffers from not knowing how to discern between the good and bad of 70’s styled Masala films, becoming too cheesy at times and too predictable during others.
Rating: 1 out of 5 Coals
The story of two young boys, who build a criminal empire for themselves through grit and loyalty to each other, GUNDAY starts off interestingly enough, following a simple formula as classic 70’s Bollywood films; spending ample amounts of time on young boys with attitude foreshadowing things to come, then cutting to the all grown up and badass. But the story is predictable and expected, while the incredibly exaggerated action does nothing to add to the experience. GUNDAY tries too hard to be a satire, tribute and genuine drama set in an age of cinema known for it’s melodrama, cliché’s and dated plot points. But the director presents these formulas in a genuine manner, which makes everything seem foolishly absurd.
With a new Cop in town, played by Irfan Khan, the two men, and now rulers of their own criminal legacy, are put on notice as Khan’s Satya promises to end their philanthropic hold over the city and the hearts of its inhabitants. Almost immediately, we’re cued to the entrance of a gorgeous siren played by Priyanka Chopra, who catches the affection of both men, who both proclaim their love for her. Through inevitable misunderstanding, a rift is created between the friends due to this common love, in a scene where the actions of Arjun Kapoor‘s Bala, made no sense, while Ranveer Singh‘s Bikram’s reaction to it later in the hospital, made things even more confusing. But then again, with two leading men and one heroine, this is expected, but the film’s story almost sets up expectation, instead of trying to make rift between them through any sort of genuine misunderstanding or confusion.
GUNDAY has a hard time setting the tone of the film and its intentions. The movie starts with a political settings and backstory, which plays no part in the rest of the film. Then there is a scene that is very graphic in nature, where one friend has to save the other, solidifying their lifelong friendship. Given the gritty nature of the scene, a more adult orientated tone is expected from there on, but the movie then indulges itself with intentionally over the top dance numbers, forced humor, and silly sub plots. It then again changes gears to extremely serious emotional drama, apparently evident by Singh growling and flexing his way through scenes, and the same slo-mo technique used in the songs to invoke humor, being used in the action scenes to convey… fighting?
It’s hard to take GUNDAY seriously, when everything that happens is so painfully predictable; when the introduction of the heroine is preceded by the flushing of a toilet, as the heroes stand in front of urinals; literally ground breaking action is made even more impressive considering the ground was a mine deep underground to begin with. The acting prowess of both leading mean seem to only include clenched teeth and half worn clothing, while Chopra flitters onto every scene, making ridiculous ultimatums and even more absurd statements, at times setting the progress of women in Bollywood back a couple of years.
GUNDAY is a poorly executed attempt at a story that’s set in the hay day of Bollywood cinema, and is unable to hang onto any of the elements which made films from that era instant classics
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