Verdict - Atrocious.
The prologue of director Ali Abbas Zafar’s Gunday, much like the 70’s Bollywood films it tries to emulate, has a lot of physicality going on where coal and mud become active motifs of the film’s aesthetic expression of its themes. The opening portions are promising, but soon after Priyanka Chopra’s character is introduced, it’s a trainwreck. The term Masala cinema is casually thrown around these days to describe cinema made for the lowest denominator of the audience, but Masala cinema is one genre that in turn must be taken seriously. The humour has to be endearing, the action has to pack a punch, the drama has to compel and the tragedy must feel tragic to the audience (which is why Sholay, after so many years, still feels alive). All the factors are present in Gunday, but the humour is cringeworthy at best, the action is filmed in excruciating slow-motion, and the drama – the conflict at the core where the two friends fall for the same girl – is so flimsy that it’s impossible to buy the film’s proceedings. The writer-director also shoehorns inane political statements into the drama that’s essentially about two individuals, and the message the film preaches is laughably silly at best. The Masala template, if approached imaginatively and taken seriously, can yield great results. Atul Sabharwal’s terrific Aurangzeb managed that feat, it was an assuredly crafted film that didn’t employ the nostalgia factor but instead meticulously sketched a very meaty drama, employing politics to serve the narrative than to preach a message. Amidst all the juvenile tomfoolery, Gunday doesn’t realize that it embodies the very flaws of lazily puked out faux-Masala films – films that are commercial, play to the gallery, aim at entertaining but miss one important ingredient – the spice. Gunday is as tasteless and unwholesome as they come.