This Valentine’s Day at least one film will venture to be all things to all people. For Yash Raj Film’s Gunday, has it all—- guns, guts and gori (a fair maiden).
The film, also known as Goons or Outlaws (its English title), is Ali Abbas Zafar’s second directorial venture and is a period tale of two brothers that become orphans and subsequent refugees during the Bengali Liberation War, who grown up to be infamous and beloved thieves, then happen to fall in love with the same woman.
*Official Synopsis: Based in Calcutta during its most unsettled times in the ’70’s, the film deals with the inseparable life of Bikram and Bala, who grew from being small time, inconsequential coal thieves, to becoming the most powerful black marketing mafia-men. A story of two happy-go-lucky renegades who came to be known as — GUNDAY.
Ranveer Singh Arjun Kapoor Priyanka Chopra
Bikram and Bala are said to be two sides of the same coin and I have no doubt, Singh and Kapoor can pull off the tenacity and resolve it takes to be young criminals. Both have irresistable charm in very different ways and I can’t wait to get swept up by their story. Singh has received good solid reviews for his four earlier releases, but Kapoor doesn’t have enough cred to compare. However, he portrays another angry young man and well, he’s absolutely solid in that role. I do hope he doesn’t remain “typecast,” for I believe his face invokes more than a villainous angry quality and can also reflect mystery and allure. There’s something dangerously attractive about him and since this form of unconventional sexiness has worked for Singh, I don’t see why Kapoor can’t do the same.
Chopra is hit or miss for me personally, and though, her performance in Barfi! floored me, she’s rarely, if ever indelible. I don’t see that changing here, however, she has the capacity to exude the depth of character, with the help of narrative rationale to be deserving of dual affection.
The last key player is my fourth favorite Khan and perhaps the only true thespian in either grouping. Here he’s a cop and on the hunt for our protagonists. Therefore, audience sympathies should be far from his favor. His role is coined “cameo,” but any character role in his hands can easily becoming scene stealing.
Music: Gunday‘s ost clocks in at 42 minutes with first pumping, heart palpitating beats and whimsical love songs. Oddly, the newly released title track, “em>Gunday,” performed by album composer Sohail Sen (featuring Singh and Kapoor), was a quick and surprising favorite. For, I usually write (read: laugh) off any track with rap or “hip-hop” additions, but in this case, the rap (Kinga Rhymes) made vocal and tonal sense, while the banjo is a perfect coupling with the traditional and inspirational vibe of the overall product.
Title tracks are known to be loud and throbbing, meant to drill itself into the memory through decibels alone. But, I believe this track was chosen for its potential to linger after the credits roll, for the hidden element of the song is the journey and spirit of the film’s characters. “Saaiyaan” and “Jiya” are of course, beautiful, sultry love songs, while “Jashn-e-Ishqa” jumps up and grabs you immediately. My only distaste lies with Priyanka’s cabaret/burlesque number, “Asalaam-e-Ishqum.”
Though I find the majority of tracks too long, I do believe they do a decent job cycling through the progression of the brothers’ lives, whether it’s through love story, corruption or conquer. Now, all that’s left is to see if the songs are inserted for appropriate effect.
** note: the entire album also will be released in Bengali.
Thoughts: I was naively optimistic for a rough and tumble period film, devoid of any romance beyond brotherhood— But alas, here were are. I don’t quite know what to think of that development because I’m positive not only will it throw a kink in my viewing pleasure, it will also tear a hole in the life-long devoted relationship of our leads. The boys are fundamentally joined at the hip, therefore, how this triangle will sever, I presume will rest on the strength of the brothers’ love and loyalty to one another.
Even with that, I am, however, still sold on the Calcutta underworld saga this film suggests and the roaring, boisterousness of the time period. Saddle that with two ambition, rambunctious lawbreakers and I think we’re in for the whole shebang— comedy, drama, romance and tragedy.
Gunday opens February 14.
[stills courtesy of Yash Raj Films]