Cast : Rajkumar Rao, Dulquer Salman, Gulshan Devaiah, Adarsh Gourav, TJ Bhanu and others.
Directors: Raj & DK
Producers: Raj & DK, Netflix
Music: Aman Pant
Release: August 18, 2023
Streaming On: Netflix
Raj & DK, the renowned Telugu director duo making waves in Bollywood, have ventured into creating content for Netflix with their latest offering, the 7-episode crime comedy series titled Guns & Gulaabs. The trailer had already hinted at a rustic crime drama set in the 90s against the backdrop of opium poppy cultivation. Here's a closer look.
The fictional town of Gulaabgunj becomes the stage for a rivalry between two groups led by Ganchi and Nabeed from the Sherpur neighborhood. They are vying for a lucrative deal from the Kolkata drug cartel, represented by Sukanto.
The deal involves delivering a substantial quantity of stock within a month. Into this mix steps Arjun Varma (Dulquer Salman), an upright narcotics officer with his own agenda. Meanwhile, Tippu (Rajkumar Rao) seeks revenge for his father's murder while trying to win the affection of Lekha teacher (TJ Bhanu). Simultaneously, a contract killer named Four Cut Atmaram (Gulshan Devaiah) is on the trail of Tippu and the Ganchi family. As the story unfolds, we unravel the mystery behind the killings and the high-stakes deal.
The series features a lineup of anti-heroes, with Rajkumar Rao standing out for his innocent appearance and impeccable comedic timing. Dulquer Salman's portrayal of a partly negative and flawed narcotics officer leaves a strong impression. Adarsh Gourav, known for 'The White Tiger,' shines as Jr. Ganchi, displaying cleverness and charm. TJ Bhanu, in the role of a school teacher and Rajkumar Rao's love interest, delivers a commendable performance. Gulshan Devaiah, resembling Sanjay Dutt as Four Cut Atmaram, stands out with his unique four-knife method for hits. The rest of the cast also contributes effectively to the series.
Raj & DK effectively transport the audience to the 90s vibe of Gulaabgunj town, capturing details from art to vintage music that immerse us in that era. While the cinematography and production design suit the period well, they may not individually stand out but effectively recreate the past. This nostalgic touch resonates strongly with those who grew up in the 90s. However, the music adds energy to action scenes but falls short elsewhere, lacking a distinctive series theme as a notable drawback.
The anticipation for Guns & Gulaabs was high due to Raj & DK's success with The Family Man. However, the series doesn't quite match up in terms of significant twists, shocking revelations, or a captivating screenplay. It leans more towards being an entertaining popcorn flick on an OTT platform, offering occasional highs, drama, and at times, surprising gruesome murders. Raj & DK have reduced the use of explicit language, violence, and sexual content, but they've also toned down the dynamic twists and turns in their storytelling.
The quirky characters grab our attention right from the start, each having their own shades of gray, making them engaging with their imperfections. However, not all of them manage to win our hearts. While the entertainment factor is present, what may detract from the experience for fans of crime comedies on OTT platforms is the liberties taken by the creators in terms of eccentric killings and plot developments.
In comparison to Raj & DK's previous work like The Family Man, Guns & Gulaabs falls short in terms of innovation, even though the 90s setting is convincingly authentic. While the nostalgia is evoked through RD Burman's classic tunes and certain cinematic sequences, like a hero sliding under a villain's legs and shooting his crotch without causing harm but merely making a hole in his pants, might be hard to digest for those seeking more grounded content.
While the final episode provides some adrenaline and satisfaction, it doesn't reach its pinnacle. The back-and-forth storytelling technique sparks intrigue, but the excessive liberties taken with frequent killings, conveniently timed accidents, and the improbable survival of key characters in shootouts can come across as overly dramatic and forced. Guns & Gulaabs might be enjoyable for those looking for light-hearted crime comedies, but for aficionados of intricate crime comedy, it feels like a rehash of well-known elements.