Dancing gangsters bro down in stinky Gunday
Starring Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra. In Hindi with English subtitles. Rated PG. Now playing
Bollywood has always excelled at the bromance film, in which the primary relationship is between brothers or male friends. These films reached their height in the kitschy 1970s and ‘80s. Director Ali Abbas Zafar attempts to conjure the same magic by setting Gunday in that era. The result is a cheap facsimile of the genre that is entirely devoid of the humour and camaraderie that defined those films.
Bikram (Ranveer Singh) and Bala (Arjun Kapoor) are the biggest gangsters in Calcutta. They arrived in the city as children in 1971 having escaped abuse and poverty in Dhaka. These are fairly jovial gangsters who spend most of their days dancing in the streets and running in slow motion. Despite their good natures and their philanthropy, they become the focus of a police investigation led by Officer Satyajeet Sarkar (Irrfan Khan).
The boys take their eye off the game when they meet a cabaret dancer, Nandita (Priyanka Chopra). Their mutual interest in her is no strain on their legendary friendship. They set out to woo her in turns. Yet, from the moment she enters the frame we know how this story will play out.
The fulcrum of the classic bromance movies was always a really good mustachioed villain. The police are the presumed antagonists here and though Irrfan Khan delivers his lines with his usual quiet superiority, he doesn’t cut it as someone we can love to hate.
Similarly, the heroes of those old buddy films were lovable rogues, always a little rough around the edges. Here, with their waxed pectorals and their neon white teeth, the leads embody a masculinity that is out of place in the era that the film is trying to evoke.
This is a messy film with no substantial plot and mismatched pieces that simply don’t fit.