Gumraah is an intriguing, layered whodunit

Aditya Roy Kapur, as Arjun and Ronnie, plays a double role in Gumraah. Photo: Trailer Video Grab 

It’s a conveyor-belt arrival of South remakes on the Hindi screen. Most such remakes are modified in silly places and for incomprehensible reasons as boosters for “perceived” pan-Indian appeal. Others do things more sensibly and judiciously, with the changes being significant (Bholaa) or intelligent (Drishyam 2) and thus work in Hindi.

Many mess up a good concept (Selfiee) by polluting the best parts of the original. The rest, irrespective of the quality of the Hindi versions (Jersey, Vikram Vedha, Mili) fail due to reasons mainly to do with “Why watch again when we have seen the better (as perceived) original on OTT?” or, simply, due to lack of face value. Good music, the driving popular face of many a past remake, is anyway, missing now and has yet to be heard in any remake in recent times.

In this context, Gumraah has the perfect blend of an intelligent premise, a riveting, layered plot, an emotional base and just cosmetic variations from the Tamil original, Thadam. Moreover, real cases like the results of the police investigation here, have happened in several countries like Germany, UK and others!

Let me mention then at the outset, that for me, this movie had only negative aspect: the music again. The four songs come and go, minus any quality in words or music or vocals or staying power, and here is where hit music would have added to this film’s appeal and tempo, like thrillers in the past, where the casting was not A-list.

In brief, the story is of two lookalikes—Arjun, a well-heeled, self-made real estate developer who is loyal to his friends, and his lookalike, the drink-loving, street-smart, daredevil conman Ronnie (both Aditya Roy Kapur) who is as tough as nails, and also spouts sections of criminal law to the discomfiture of the cops who arrest him! Ronnie, too, is extremely loyal to the only friend he has, Chaddi (Deepak Kalra).

A young man is murdered by one of the two (as shown on screen) and when cops investigate, by a slice of luck, the police get a picture of the likely murderer in the vicinity that rainy night. One of the senior cops, ACP Yadav (Ronit Roy), recognizes him as Arjun, with whom he has to settle an old personal score, and he is arrested and even tortured—ACP Yadav is now sure that Arjun, an old “enemy”, will now be “finished”.

On the case also is Inspector Shivani Mathur (Mrunal Thakur), who is investigating it objectively. But the cops are soon baffled when Arjun’s lookalike, Ronnie, is arrested within hours for a drunken assault on cops. The two are kept away from each other by the police so that they have no clue of each other’s existence. But now there are two suspects!

The police continue to be baffled, even more when Arjun’s and Ronnie’s DNAs match. Meanwhile, we are let on into two stories: of Arjun’s love story with a daughter of divorced parents, Janhvi (Vedika) and Ronnie’s willingness to do anything to save Chaddi (Deepak Kalra)’s life from gangsters. And as ACP Yadav tries to manipulate the case to trap Arjun, Shivani finds that Ronnie is the likelier culprit, because an independent witness, a cabbie, is traced and corroborates Arjun’s whereabouts at the crucial time of the murder, giving his improbable story a solid alibi…

The intrigue and suspense are immensely well-maintained as the audience is kept a shade confused, but in the end, all the pieces fit snugly. The script, though a shade jerky to confuse the viewer, is racy, and the dialogues sharp and natural. The romantic angle is well-handed, and even better is the way the respective back-stories of the two doppelgangers are shown. The police too are into manipulation and those sequences too are well-placed, with apt digs at cops being sluggish or taking bribes apart from crooked lawyers shown supporting them with the ‘right’ advice.

Overall, the deftly-directed drama ticks all the right boxes and also boasts of good technical values (like the cinematography by Vineet Malhotra and the editing by Sahil Nayar that ensures that there is no dull moment in the crisply-mounted 129- minute saga). For someone who is a first-timer, high marks indeed for Vardhan Ketkar, the director. And the background score by Ketan Sodha is apt and neither intrusive nor excessive.

The performances strike another high note. Mrunal Thakur is in control as the no-nonsense, determined cop. Deepak Kalra as Ronnie’s bum-chum is excellent, as is Keeya Khanna in a key role (no spoilers!). The cops act well, especially the stout one, who is a regular name I cannot place. Ronit Roy as the vengeful ACP is in form as well, etching out a character weak enough to look for personal gratification when he should be looking at clues and facts in a murder case. Mohitt Anand as Arjun’s friend and colleague is good too. Vedika has a charming persona and is well-cast in the brief role of Arjun’s love interest.

But the film, show and acting honors all go to Aditya Roy Kapur, a uniformly and increasingly proficient actor who is more than excellent in his contrasting dual roles. As Ronnie, he plays to the gallery and his action sequences and comic side come to the fore. As Arjun, he shows the cool, romantic side of his persona that is no less intense. Here is an actor who has always delivered (right from his debut cameo in London Dreams 14 years back to his lead debut with Akshay Kumar in Action Replayy a year later), but has never acheived the position he deserves.

Here’s hoping that Aditya’s Gumraah (astray) career gets on-track with this pithy thriller. It will indeed be a tragedy if the movie does not work at the b-o.

Rating: **** 

T-Series Films & Cine1 Studios present Gumraah  Produced by: Bhushan Kumar, Murad Khetani, Krishan Kumar & Anjum Khetani  Directed by: Vardhan Ketkar Written by: Aseem Arora & Magizh Thirumeni  Music: Mithoon, Vishal Mishra, Tanishk Bagchi & Abhijit Vaghani  Starring: Aditya Roy Kapur, Mrunal Thakur, Ronit Roy, Vedika, Deepak Kalra, Keeya Khanna, Ivan Rodrigues, Mohitt Anand, James Ghadge, Navneet Kaur Thind & others    



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here