Yash Raj Films’ Gunday (UA) is about two friends, Bikram (master Darshan Gujar) and Bala (master Jayesh Kardak), who are refugees in Bangladesh in 1971, with no one to care for them, except Lateef (Pankaj Tripathi), who initiates them into the world of crime even when they are kids. But being a man with a heart of gold, Lateef also ensures that they escape to India after they murder a lecherous army officer, Usmaanullah (Manu Rishi Chadha). The two little boys reach Calcutta and, in a bid to survive there, begin to steal coal from railway wagons. Soon, they indulge in other illegal activities also and flourish as they grow up.
Even after they grow up, Bikram (Ranveer Singh) and Bala (Arjun Kapoor) continue to be extremely fond of each other and are now into several businesses, legal and illegal, having earned a lot of money. One day, a cabaret dancer, Nandita (Priyanka Chopra), enters their lives. Both fall head over heels in love with her. Even as ACP Satyajit Sarkar (Irrfan Khan) is baying for their blood, the two are smitten by Nandita and confess their love to her. Before Nandita can decide whom she loves, Bala has to go in hiding as the police is after him for murdering someone in a cinema hall. While separating from Bikram, Bala takes a vow from him that nothing would change between them and Nandita till he joined them again. But, as luck would have it, Nandita professes her love for Bikram to him soon after Bala leaves, and a reluctant Bikram accepts her. All hell breaks loose in Bala’s life when he learns of this and he interprets this as Bikram cheating him.
Cracks now develop in Bikram and Bala’s friendship. As Bala is more impulsive since childhood, he refuses to see reason. He wants to kill Bikram but can’t. Bala, nevertheless, manages to have their business divided as he decides that they can no longer be friends or partners. Meanwhile, Bala is still being tracked by the police but they are unable to arrest him. On his part, Bala’s love for Nandita gets the better of him and he even kidnaps her one day. Here, Bikram realises that Bala’s involvement in the cinema hall murder is nothing but a frame-up.
Will Bikram and Bala ever come together again? Does Nandita escape from Bala’s clutches? Does she play a proactive part in ensuring that the two friends unite again or does she try to create a further rift between them? Do the police succeed in nabbing Bala? Are the police also successful in arresting Bikram for all his illegal businesses?
Ali Abbas Zafar has set his film in the ’70s and ’80s. His story offers little novelty as it follows the tried and tested path of two bosom pals falling in love with the same girl, falling out with each other because of that, etc. His screenplay is replete with scenes one has seen in the films of the 1970s and 1980s. However, Ali Abbas Zafar is unable to bring to the fore, the emotions of the strong bond of friendship between Bikram and Bala. Had his script been well-written, it could have made the audience cry at several points, but, unfortunately, the emotions in the screenplay leave the viewers unaffected most of the times because the drama unfolds in the most predictable fashion. If emotions are conspicuous by their absence, the light moments are also few and far between. It would not be wrong to say that the film moves without too many highs and without really involving the audience, at least before interval. What is also irritating is that the inherent pace of the drama is very slow and since everything is so predictable, the slow pace gets on the audience’s nerves.
Yes, there are some scenes which have the desired impact but in a film in which every scene could have touched the heart and moved the viewers, only a few actually manage to do that. Frankly, the pace picks up only in the latter part of the second half, after Bala kidnaps Nandita. It is also only after this point that several revelations are made due to which the audience feels a bit more involved in the drama. Having said this, it must be added that in spite of the ordinary screenplay, the audience will still enjoy the drama because they love films about two bosom pals whose friendship is disturbed by an outsider (in this case, Nandita). Also, there may be drawbacks in the script and the subject may lack novelty but the film’s grammar is not wrong.
Dialogue writers Ali Abbas Zafar and Sanjay Masoom employ too much of flowery language which would not appeal to the modern-day audience. Also, the pace at which some characters deliver their dialogues is terribly slow, adding to the boredom of the viewers.
Ranveer Singh is sincere in the role of Bikram. He essays his part with conviction. He is very good in the action scenes. Arjun Kapoor also breathes fire in the action sequences but his acting is ordinary. He needs to improve on his expressions and his voice modulation. Priyanka Chopra acts ably and looks sexy. Irrfan Khan is not his usual self. Although only in a special appearance, his presence does not add too much to the character of ACP Satyajit Sarkar because he neither has weighty scenes to perform, nor memorable dialogues to mouth. In short, he has not been intelligently used. Saurabh Shukla is earnest but that’s about it. Even he does not get much scope to prove his mettle. Pankaj Tripathi leaves a mark in a tiny role. Manu Rishi Chadha is alright as Usmaanullah. Master Darshan Gujar (as young Bikram) and master Jayesh Kardak (as young Bala) are natural. Anant Sharma (as Himanshu) makes his presence felt. Deepraj Rana (as Dibakar), Victor Banerjee (as the police commissioner), Jameel Khan (as Satyajit Sarkar’s colleague), Abhay Bhargava (as Bose Babu), Amrit Pal Singh (as the undercover cop) and Gautam Siddharth (as the shopkeeper in Calcutta) do as required.
Ali Abbas Zafar’s direction is fair. Although his handling of the scenes between Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor could have been better, he creates an impact in the scenes between Priyanka and Ranveer and between Priyanka and Arjun. He has given the film a big canvas. Sohail Sen’s music is a major plus point of the film. ‘Tune maari entriyaan’ is already a hit song. ‘Jashn-e-ishqa’, ‘Jiya’, ‘Assalaam-e-ishqum’ and ‘Saaiyaan’ are also appealing numbers. ‘Mann kunto maula’ has melody. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are mass-appealing. Bosco-Caesar’s choreography is of a good standard. Julius Packiam’s background score is okay. Action scenes (Sham Kaushal) will appeal to the masses. Aseem Mishra’s camerawork is good. Rajat Poddar’s sets are appropriate. Although Rameshwar S. Bhagat’s editing is reasonably sharp, the slow pace of the film (due to the screenplay, and dialogue delivery) is a problem area.
On the whole, Gunday is an ordinary fare with two aspects going hugely in its favour – very good music and the flying start it has taken. It will, therefore, prove to be a comfortably paying proposal for all concerned.