Table of Contents
Introduction of “Guns & Gulaabs”
In the trailer of Raj & DK’s gangster comedy “Guns & Gulaabs,” a character poses the question, “What is the essence of this story?” This query appears valid when considering series like The Family Man and Farzi. While I support Raj & DK’s access to substantial budgets, extensive screen time, and an ensemble cast, their amalgamation of these elements often fails to consistently maintain an enjoyable and zany atmosphere. (Read this also : Reviews for ‘King of Kotha’ movie)
The director duo Raj & DK successfully transport the audience back to the ’90s through a fictitious hill station named Gulaabgang, reminiscent of a ’90s Dehradun or Mussoorie. With references like Campa Cola and a pink ladies’ perfume named Pink Mamba, the filmmakers effectively evoke ’90s nostalgia, particularly through a subplot involving schoolchildren.
School Days and Innocent Love
The narrative commences with two boys debating the depth of their love by engraving their girlfriends’ names on their arms using a compass. Subsequently, a girl and a boy develop affection for each other while walking alongside their bicycles instead of riding them.
The depiction of classroom politics, such as the class monitor relinquishing his badge to the new class topper and the class monitor listing troublemakers’ names on the blackboard, is both petty and evocative. While these children receive ample screen time alongside the expansive cast, their integration into the main plot feels more contrived than organic.
Quirky Situations and Humor
A charming segment showcases the class topper assisting his resourceful friend in ghostwriting love letters in English for a Hindi-speaking mechanic. The child follows a process involving listening to English music on his Walkman and adding a finishing touch by spraying his mother’s Pink Mamba perfume on the letter. In a comical sequence, he composes the letter while a Bryan Adams song plays in the background, leading to confusion for the mechanic and his accomplice.
Unclear Purpose of ’90s Setting
Yet, apart from these endearing elements, a larger purpose for setting the story in the ’90s remains unclear. What deeper sentiment are Raj & DK attempting to evoke, beyond mere nostalgia? Regrettably, despite one’s efforts, the answer is elusive, akin to shaking an empty piggy bank at the end of the month.
Complex Characters and Legacy
Raj & DK populate “Guns & Gulaabs” with a quirky cast of criminals. They draw a parallel between Chhota Ganchi (Adarsh Gourav), the son of the town’s notorious gangster Ganchi (Satish Kaushik), and Tipu (Rajkummar Rao), a mechanic and the offspring of Ganchi’s loyal yet expendable gang member. Both grapple with their fathers’ legacies. While Chhota feels the weighty pressure to step into his father’s enormous shoes but repeatedly falters, Tipu adamantly rejects following his father’s path, yet he nonchalantly eliminates men using a simple spanner.
Disjointed Plot and Missed Potential
This theme of inheriting paternal legacies looms large over the plot. However, it fails to achieve prominence due to the presence of numerous subplots, inconsequential chase sequences, and uninteresting scenes that saturate the show. These elements continue to drift apart as the narrative advances, failing to coalesce into a cohesive whole—much like the accomplished cast, each playing their roles in isolation without converging into the explosive cinematic moment that could have been.
Standout Performances and Missed Opportunities
Rajkummar Rao stands out as the most humorous character. His character boasts the most extensive development, and he executes it with commendable finesse. Particularly memorable are his initial moments, including a humorous incident where he forgets his father’s passing while attempting to flirt with a love interest (uttering “Yes, father is fine… oh, father has passed away”). Adarsh Gourav also possesses an engaging character arc with clever nuances and a satisfying culmination.
However, the series squanders the simmering intensity within this young actor due to its fragmented focus. Dulquer Salmaan brings integrity to his role as a cop but is burdened with unnecessary character traits, predictable moral ambiguity, and an extraneous subplot involving infidelity. The sudden appearance of Shreya Dhanwanthary, who blackmails Dulquer and delivers a shocking revelation in the finale, appears more as an attempt at revenge for her role in R Balki’s “Chup” from the previous year.
Underdeveloped Female Characters
Gulshan Devaiah’s character stands as the most eccentric, and he embraces this quirkiness with enthusiasm. However, the female characters receive inadequate attention, an issue that should be addressed by co-writers Raj & DK and Suman Kumar. Among them, Chandralekha (TJ Bhanu), a schoolteacher, garners the most notice. She appears to derive satisfaction from audacious confessions and minor transgressions, adding a fascinating dark dimension to her character. Unfortunately, “Guns & Gulaabs” fails to delve deeper into this aspect.
Tribute and Creative Shortcomings
The series pays fitting tribute to the late Satish Kaushik. His character is furnished with witty lines, a mischievous persona, and a tribute in the form of his name appearing on a calendar in the closing credits of the first episode. One of his most memorable scenes involves the wooden floor beneath him creaking and cracking—a poignant portrayal in itself.
Raj & DK possessed the ingredients to craft a remarkable show with such a cast. However, their approach lacks the necessary depth, coherence, and vibrancy beyond a certain point. For their next script, a dose of Pink Mamba and a Bryan Adams song might help them rediscover their creative rhythm, if at all.
“Guns & Gulaabs” is available for streaming on Netflix India.