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Guns & Gulaabs & A Whole Lot Of Mirthful Mayhem



Guns & Gulaabs

Guns & Gulaabs(Netflix, 8 Episodes)

Rating: ****

Can violence ever be humorous? It can,  if you are  Quentin Tarantino  or  Guy Ritchie, or nearer home  Sriram Raghavan or Raj-DK, the  duo that sticks its neck out so far, you fear for  their hair.

Guns & Gulaabs(probably a tilt of the protagonist  Tipu’s  topi to the rock  band Guns & Roses) is set  around the 1970s and 80s in a lawless town named  Gulaabganj, adjoining the town Sherganj . Just when you thought there would be a Romeo and Juliet from the two warring towns , we are told there is  a lovelorn Romeo,Tipu  played by the irresistibly goofy Rajkummar Rao who  pines for  a school teacher Lekha on a mo’ped(T J Bhanu).

Now Tipu is  no  Sultan of romance. Fuck, he  can’t even write! So he gets a prim and propah  schoolboy who listens to  love songs  by Aerosmith , Air Supply etc  on a rickety two-in-one while penning love sentiments, to do the needful.

In the meanwhile  an upright  cop played with endearing equanimity  by Dulquer Salman  arrives in Gulaabganj to clean up the cocaine crime syndicate  created  by  a ganglord named Ganchi(the late and much missed Satish Kaushik who for very obvious reasons, vanishes after two episodes) and his  son , rather obviously named Chota Ganchi  .

As played by the wonderful  Adarsh Gourav, Chota Ganchi is a bewildering brew of the bratty and the sinister. Gourav takes the character through the complicated arc effortlessly; his subtle leering in this snarled but accessible  series that avoids layering, at his friend’s wife is so sickening,  it actually seems funny.

All this sounds very violent, which it is(though  Raj and DK and their writer  Kunal Mehta treat the violence with comicbook contempt) and  it also sounds  highly tangled, which it is  not.

These are  people  who live by the  gun and die by it. As simple as that!

It is up to the co-directors to ignite  a farcical fire in the  blizzard of  body counts that hits the plot almost by numbers. The way Tipu claims his violent genes in a  scene where a spanner  plays a pivotal part, is  not meant for the squeamish.  But at the same time, the violence cannot be considered gratuitous.

It is all so  savage and funny and savagely funny that by the end of it this mashup  of mirth and mayhem we are left panting for  breadth.

As  is the  wont in Raj-DK’s  storytelling, the  casting is where they  get it right. The rest just follows. Rajkumar Rao’s Romeo with a streak of Satya is  a mishmash of  emotions that are  hard to define . Rao  sinks his teeth into the  part with relish. Here is  an actor who is never afraid to  look  silly on screen.

Adarsh Gourav as a cocaine tycoon’s son and Dulquer Salman as Arjun, the honeytrapped virtuous  cop are pitch perfect. The ladies, sadly , have little to do which they do with artful elan.

What  I found confusing was the timeline in this tale of two shitty cities.Dulquer is seen enjoying the songs of  Nasir Hussain’s  Zamane Ko Dikhana  Hai as he drives to  his new job. He later asks his cop colleague to get him a cassette of the  film without the ‘Jhankar beats’ which were popular during those times.

But soon after,Tipu is heard crooning a song  from Aashiqui which came  nine years after Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai.

So is Gulaabganj stuck in a time warp where a decade and  more seems irrelevant?  Guns & Gulaabs is a super-crazy sometime dizzying oftentimes exhilarating ride  into a wild waste every character is a  loser  though he thinks otherwise.

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