Guns & Gulaabs is a conveyor belt thriller that offers little

Dulquer Salmaan impresses in the very routine web thriller, Guns & Gulaabs on Netflix. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

Raj & DK excel in some cases and go the mediocre, done-to-death way in others, whether in cinema or web series. Go Goa Gone, a decade ago, and The Family Man as a series, were their standout works in Hindi. The rest of their work has been mixed, often mediocre or mundane.

After Farzi early this year, they now spin another trite-and-twisted thriller in Guns & Gulaabs, and the worst part is that it has been branded as a dark comedy. A grimacing and smirking villain (one of many) is named Chaar Cut Atmaram because he always kills his victims with four slashes on his blade at the ‘correct’ places on the body. Gulshan Devaiah does his kinky baddie bit again. Atmaram is said to be blessed with seven lives—he can die six deaths and recover!

Rajkummar Rao, on the other hand, is known as Paana (spanner) Tipu because he has killed two men with a spanner used for vehicles, as he is a mechanic. Ganchi (Satish Kaushik) is a don in the village who is clinching a huge (needless to say, illegal) opium deal with a polished thug named Sukanto (Rajatava Datta), and his rival is one-time adopted son Nabeed (Nilesh Divekar).

Enter a seemingly clean police officer, Arjun (Dulquer Salmaan) with family, wife Madhu (Pooja A. Gor) and daughter Jo (Suhani Sethi), who has been posted to the Gulaabgunj area. But he too has a dark secret—an affair with Yamini (Shreya Dhanwanthary), which his now-convicted friend, Pratap (Varun Badola) knows about. Pratap’s reputation and family life have been destroyed by Arjun during an operation and he wants revenge by destroying Arjun’s happiness. Why he wants to announce this to Arjun and wait to do so is anybody’s (Raj & DK’s, that is!) guess.

Jo, too, in her new school, begins to like Nannu (Krish Rao), while his friend, Gangu (Tanishq Chaudhary) has a crush on their teacher, Chandralekha (T.J. Bhanu) who is in a romantic relationship with Tipu.

Rival gangs, illegal drug deals, poor farmers, corrupt cops, a kinky hired assassin, love-struck schoolchildren, double-crosses galore —the formulaic templates are followed, and we also have a roadside ‘baba’ (Kumar Saurabh) who sells lucky amulets, including to Atmaram. There is a kinky door left open for a sequel too.

Performances in such films can lift the series, but apart from the three children, no one really rises above the script except for Dulquer Salmaan. Rajkummar Rao is very predictable, and Adarsh Gourav as Ganchi’s son (there is a twist there as well) is decent. Gulshan Devaiah hams to the hilt, and so does the late Satish Kaushik (this is one of the last works he did). Manuj Sharma and Gautam Sharma as Tipu’s friends at diverse times do well.

The series, set in the pre-mobile era of the 1990s, is too long thanks to a needlessly complex and stretched plotline. The background music is routine and seems to be heavily influenced by R.D. Burman’s style. Wonder why this tenor is the only one associated with retro Hindi cinema?

The funky credit-titles are the best part of the show and I liked the end-credits song by Kumar Sanu. The song is written by Akhil Tiwari and composed by Aman Pant.

But by and large, this conveyor-belt series seems to be little more than a ‘let’s-make-one-more-thriller-somehow’ kind and shows that Raj & DK are fast exhausting their creative batteries, just like many a middle-of-the-road, ‘realistic’ filmmakers who revel in their experimental forays and are hyped by an easily-influenced media and fans. I exhausted over six hours for this meandering drama, and do not recommend this viewing excess for anyone looking for riveting entertainment.

Rating: **

Netflix presents D2R Films’ Guns & Gulaabs  Created, produced & directed by: Raj & DK  Written by: Raj & DK, Suman Kumar  & Sumit Arora  Music: Aman Pant  Starring: Dulquer Salmaan, Rajkummar Rao, Pooja A. Gor, T.J. Bhanu, Gulshan Devaiah, Adarsh Gourav, Sushil Kumar, Rajatabha Dutta, Goutam Sharma,  Gourav Sharma, Satish Kaushik, Nilesh Divekar, Suhani Sethi, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Vipin Sharma, Manuj Sharma, Sanchay Goswami, Varun Badola, Krish Rao, Tanishq Chaudhary, Adrija Sinha, Kumar Saurabh, Sachin Kathuria, Jogi Mallang & others






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