To everyone who thinks that movie critics have the best jobs in the world, I’d like to say only this – Gabbar is Back.
Sure, getting paid to watch movies for a living beats the hell out of sitting at a desk all day. But remember, freedom of choice is a luxury that movie critics don’t enjoy. You get to watch the films you want to. We must watch everything, so you don’t have to. Which brings me to Gabbar is Back, the new Akshay Kumar film that I can bet is only a slight improvement on watching two hours of CCTV footage of an airport baggage carousel.
Even the most unconditional Akshay Kumar fans will likely agree that the film’s premise – a wronged man becomes a vigilante to weed out corruption from the system – feels dated, and devoid of any original insight. Hardly surprising, given that the film is a remake of Ghajni director AR Murgadoss’ Tamil hit Ramana from all the way back in 2002 – yes, 13 years ago.
Borrowing the alias of Hindi cinema’s most enduring villain, but bringing none of his dangerous appeal, Akshay plays a college professor who moonlights discreetly as a dispenser of justice, handpicking corrupt government officials and hanging them publicly to spread fear among the dishonest. It makes him a sort of hero of the masses, even as the police struggles to uncover his identity and bring him to task. Eventually Gabbar finds himself on the wrong side of a ruthless builder (Suman Talwar) who becomes obsessed with exacting revenge on him for tarnishing his business reputation.
I’ll spare you the details, except to say that director Radhakrishna Jagarlamudi (aka Krish) paints in broad strokes, giving us conflicts that feel too exaggerated and resolutions that are too simplistic. A scene in which our protagonist exposes the malpractices in a prestigious private hospital by staging an entrapment plan is far-fetched and frankly unconvincing, even if it does tap into the very real sentiment of one’s frustration against the medical system. There isn’t one quiet moment or even a hint of subtlety in the film’s 130-minute running time, its blaring background music only emphasizing the melodrama. There are clap-trap lines peppered throughout the film that front-benchers will inevitably cheer, and you’re left with the feeling of being pounded on the head repeatedly with a message that’s questionable to say the least.
The stray moments of humor in this film are strictly unintentional, particularly those bits in which our protagonist’s chief nemesis bandies on repeatedly about his “brand value”. At one point during the final confrontation between the two, Akshay rubs his rival’s face in the fact that “Gabbar is a bigger brand than you!” Television funnyman Sunil Grover gets a few good moments as an enterprising constable, but the same can’t be said for the film’s leading lady Shruti Haasan, who plays a Google-quoting dimwit. Even worse is the raw deal handed out to poor Chitrangada Singh, who is left to shake and shimmy to a sleazy-sounding item song.
From the clumsy plotting and a manipulative back-story featuring a visibly disinterested Kareena Kapoor, to the been-there-seen-that action scenes and the uninspired score, there’s little to recommend in this movie. At best, Akshay Kumar lays on the charm in a few well-timed sequences. But it’s too small a reward in exchange for sitting through this boring film.
I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five for Gabbar is Back. Not surprisingly, your migraine’s back too!