Directed by Raj & DK
Written by Sita Menon (Story); Sumit Batheja (Dialogues); Raj & DK (Story & Screenplay)
Produced by Fox Star Studios
Starring Sidharth Malhotra, Jacqueline Fernandes, Darshan Kumar, Hussain Dalal, Amit Mistry
Photographed by Roman Jakobi
Edited by Aarif Sheikh
Music by Sachin-Jigar
Engineers-turned-filmmakers Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, better known by their screen credits – Raj & DK – have given Hindi cinema its first zombie film in Go Goa Gone. That was the first film of theirs that I watched. And I loved it. A fun ensemble and a kickass plot. Happy Ending was one of the few Hindi films that actually followed a rom-com pattern. Usually, Bollywood rom-coms get too drama-heavy and melodramatic. It got panned but I honestly enjoyed it. Light, breezy, funny. With A Gentleman, the director duo turn their focus to a genre not to successfully tapped into in Hindi cinema: the action-comedy.
A Gentleman is a film about mistaken identities, wherein ‘sundar evam susheel’ NRI Gaurav is mistaken for an assassin called Rishi. Rishi used to work for an agency called ‘Unit X’, run by a man known only by his rank (or maybe it’s a nickname): Colonel. Tired of the life of an assassin, Rishi escapes and Colonel, who is also his mentor and father figure, vows to ‘dhundke maro’-fy him. Somewhere the lookalikes cross paths and we are introduced to Gaurav. He likes the simple life and is craving for a wife and a family. He is mocked by his friend and colleague Dixit (pronounced as Dick-shit) and ignored by Kavya, the girl he is smitten by. Things take a turn when Colonel sees a picture of Gaurav and assumes he is Rishi, commencing the revenge spree.
The first problem in A Gentleman is ‘Unit X’. A bunch of covert operatives who are bizarrely foolish and careless. They have tattoos all over their goddamn bodies (so much for blending in like operatives) and wreck their operations to the extent that you wonder how nobody has ever caught them. There also seems to be no accountability to the government they serve, making you wonder why they aren’t just dissolved and finished off with.
The humour is off, shocking for a Raj & DK movie. The Dick-shit joke gets old pretty quickly. There are a few laughs and some genuinely funny scenes sprinkled over the film but it is nowhere close to the standards of GGG and Happy Ending.
Sumit Batheja’s dialogues are a miss too, often becoming corny.
Sita Menon and Raj & DK’s story is pretty good (though predictable) but it isn’t exploited, courtesy the poor screenplay. The peeling off of layers is damn slow at first and then everything happens too fast. The first half of the film should’ve been shorter and the screenplay should’ve gone deeper. Instead, we are given superficial, shallow characters whom we couldn’t give a shit about. A loosely written screenplay can ruin a good story, as has been the case with so many Bollywood films before.
The editing by Aarif Sheikh is pretty slick and nicely done.
Prime Focus once again delivers poor VFX and the composition against the green screen is clearly visible.
Sachin-Jigar deliver some quirky foot-tapping music, especially the background piece ‘Bandook Meri Laila’. They fortunately don’t do a remake of the actual Baat Ban Jaye and spare the classic, delivering a fresh dance number instead.
Roman Jakobi’s cinematography is flashy and cool, though nothing to write home about. There are loads of high-angle shots. The song ‘Chandralekha’ is shot pretty well.
Cyril Rafaelli, Parvez Shaikh and George Aguilar do a fabulous job with the action. The stunts have cool written all over them in big bold letters. The gunfights are well-executed, as is the hand-to-hand combat but it is one particular stunt that is incredible: that of a car flying off an elevated parking lot and getting stuck between two buildings, emphasising upon the lack of space in Mumbai.
Of the performances, Amit Mistry is funny as the Gujarati hitman from Miami, delivering some laughs thanks to his Gujarati instructions on what to do. Darshan Kumar, who was so good in NH 10, is shockingly bad. He plays an underdeveloped character but he overdoes his bit, coming off more as moronic than menacing. Hussain Dalal plays Dixit and gets the funniest lines in the film, pulling them off with ease. Most importantly, unlike the rest of the cast, he looks comfortable in his role. Suniel Shetty’s comeback is not all that great, simply because there is no meat to the character. Sad that Raj & DK couldn’t do with Colonel what they did with Armaan-ji, played by a hilarious Govinda, in Happy Ending. ‘Anna’ tries to put his skill to use and does seem quite cool but the character is all surface and no soul.
Jacqueline Fernandes still has the accent but the effort she puts into dubbing her dialogues is evident in the film. And her Hindi is not as much a struggle to understand as Katrina Kaif’s is. She emotes well too, even though her character is more like eye candy. But then, that term can be used for everyone in this movie. Still, she does a fairly decent job and that’s saying something.
Sidharth Malhotra is charming as good boy Gaurav and comes across as the kind of guy you find in a matrimonial ad. His turn as Rishi is pretty good too, though he does take his shirt off way too many times. He performs the action credibly and seems pretty good at it. Though not as good as his performance in Kapoor & Sons, he does manage to redeem himself after the disaster that was Baar Baar Dekho.
Raj & DK disappoint big time. The film needed more depth and humour than it had. It’s all gloss and glamour but there doesn’t seem to be much heart in it. They are talented directors but that doesn’t come across in A Gentleman.
My advice is to not watch this movie unless you’re an action fan or a fan of either of the lead actors. Do not, I repeat, do not go for it if you’re fond of Raj & DK films.
Verdict: B (Bland and Banal)
Up next on CINEPHILE STOCK: Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar-starrer Shubh Mangal Saavdhan on September 1.