Guns & Gulaabs Review
Guns & Gulaabs Review (Picture Credit: Youtube)

Guns & Gulaabs Review: Star Rating:

Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Gulshan Devaiah, Dulquer Salmaan, Adarsh Gourav, Satish Kaushik, T.J Bhanu, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Pooja Gaur & Ensemble.

Creator: Raj & DK.

Director: Raj & DK.

Streaming On: Netflix

Language: Hindi (with subtitles).

Runtime: 7 Episodes, Around 60 Minutes Each.


Guns & Gulaabs Review
Guns & Gulaabs Review (Picture Credit: Youtube)

Guns & Gulaabs Review: What’s It About:

In a town borrowed from a pulpy tale from yesteryear, Gulaabganj, the cartel head, fight the war to be the biggest of the smugglers and gangsters. Stuck in this battle are three young men, two of which are heirs to two different gangster tycoons, Tipu (Rajkummar) & Jugnu (Adarsh), and a newly designated Inspector, Arjun (Dulquer), who wants to bring order to this lawless town. What happens when these young men cross paths on a deadly drug deal forms the plot of this nostalgia-charged show.

Guns & Gulaabs Review: What Works:

Filmmakers looking back in time and serving the fanboys/girls in them by paying homage to the cinema culture they grew up upon is a lucrative subject matter to witness. The content they make somewhere unleashes the child in them who saw all of it firsthand, and the attempt to replicate it has earnest emotions. pulp fictions are known for their over-the-top approach and the fact that they are set in a world that exists parallel to the real world and have the job to make the audience suspend their disbelief. But when Raj & DK place an almost ghost-like character with Flash (DCU) like superpowers, can they do justice to the complicated map they have created? Let’s dissect.

Guns & Gulaabs, while being a tale about a drug nexus and the gangsters who run them, is a homage and celebrations to the Pulp Fictions that have been a guilty pleasure for almost all of us who has enjoyed watching Sultana Daku create havoc or a woman being a seductress and conning men around her turning out to be a hero of her own story. We knew those weren’t real situations, characters, or places, but we still somehow surrendered to them. We all were scared of Gabbar Singh for half our childhood and traumatised by Jaani Dushman (2002). Even with that nursery-level animated ghost, who are we to complain?

So when Raj & DK unleash the pulp fiction lover children in them, they hold no bars. They include the iconic ‘baap Ka badla’ angle, there is a ‘naye Inspector aaye hain’ twist, a ‘judwa bhai’ pair who dress alike and talk alike, boys deciding the fate of their one-sided love through FLAMES, every character is perfectly a caricature but also balanced with being unique (Gulshan is busy looking like Sanjay Dutt and acting like gazillion different villains), and there are references and Easter eggs that even I might have missed. The introduction to this world is top class and one as we expect from filmmakers with the calibre of Raj & DK. The idea is that there is no mention of Bombay or the industry, but their lives are nothing better than the rip-off of a pulpy masala Bollywood movie. A character who comes from the outside even asks one of the gangsters, “Tum sab ek jaisa sochte ho kya?” when he takes him for a meeting in the ruins of a mansion.

So is the climax that is aware that it has shaped an OTT Pulp Fiction and now needs to give redemption to each and every single main character it has introduced. So it now bifurcates the entire final act in sections, with each giving the deserved end to every character present. Also, whoever thought of using Gangbaaz for Gangsters and featuring Campa Cola, ten marks extra for research!

Guns & Gulaabs Review
Guns & Gulaabs Review (Picture Credit: Youtube)

Guns & Gulaabs Review: Star Performance:

Rajkummar Rao is a performer, and with promising filmmakers, he always uses a free hand to create unique characters. You can often see that he has improvised things, and the actors around him are playing with his energy. As Tipu, he sees a transition from hating his father to avenging his death. He never wanted to join the business that brought blood on his hands, but his fate is already written with the blood. The actor makes sure he leaves his subtleness outside the sets.

Gulshan Devaiah plays a ghost-like character Atmaram. A man of few words, he is an interesting character and, like I said, an amalgamation of multiple pulpy villains over the years filled in a body that looks like Sanjay Dutt with gold teeth. While the story ends with keeping a lot about him mysterious, the actor makes sure he builds the role well on his level.

Dulquer Salmaan hurling cuss words should be an idea for a YouTube channel. The actor gets to play the closest to sanity role, and he does well because he has done things even more complex than this. While the handling of his side of the story is haphazard, he still manages to pull it off well.

Adarsh Gourav’s Jugnu is the most underexplored character. While his end reveals is a classic, giving that twist a bit prior and exploring that side of his existence would have been a better trajectory for the character. He is good at what he has done, and the way he hints at the big reveal without verbally saying it or physically giving it out is brilliant.

Late Satish Kaushik only shows what exactly we are going to miss going forward. Having played comic roles most of his career, where he is a gangster. There is humour around him, but he is never the curator. Also, the end credits writing his name on the calendar is the best Easter egg this show has to offer. (He played Calendar in Mr. India and made him iconic).

Guns & Gulaabs Review: What Doesn’t Work:

Like mentioned above, the beginning and the end are brilliant, but the middle act is where things spiral, and they never get back on track until the very third act and that to the final part of it. Once we are in sync with the story about these over-the-top people in an over-the-top setup, the show refuses to go anywhere else. We know now what you are trying to show us, but where are you going? It seems like it is dragged for reasons unknown, so a couple of more episodes can be filled.

It dragged because most of it seems unnecessary and very convenient when it tries to make characters cross paths. It is an important thing, but the execution never lets it look organic. This makes it all look like this could be a movie stretched into over 7 hours of a show. Because if after investing 5 of the said 7 hours, you are going to kill the king of the other side in a second without any participation in the main war, the first question will be, why did I take so much interest?

While there is enough meat in what the show chooses to tell, why don’t we ever enter the homes of these characters post their initial introductions? Like how Tipu’s has a bone to pick with his stepmother, or where is Atmaram from, how is Dulquer’s personal life suddenly so less of important, and where are the other people from Jugnu’s family considering they live in a mansion?

Add to this that Guns & Gulaabs just forget to give women meaty parts that make a difference to the main plot. We know that the movies of the era the show is set in neglected women, but it was made today. We watch Guns & Gulaabs the same fortnight as Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, the feminine force did deserve better here.

Guns & Gulaabs Review: Last Words:

Guns & Gulaabs is a brilliant idea but also one that could have been a feature film and not a 7-episode show. There is enough not to keep you away, but also don’t have skyrocketing expectations.

Must Read: The Kashmir Files Unreported Review: Forget Propaganda Or Agenda, At What Point Do We Talk About Solutions Keeping Aside The Blame Game?

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