It seems like Bollywood has run out of original ideas and is turning increasingly towards South India for content. First Shehzada, then Selfiee, and then Bholaa, in the past few months. Unfortunately for Hindi film-goers, they are never as great as the original, which one can easily sit at home and stream. Debutant director Vardhan Ketkar’s Gumraah, which is a remake of Tamil film Thadam, is no different.
If you have already watched Thadam, then there is no point in watching Gumraah because a whodunnit that is a copy-paste of the original (co-written by the same writer — Thirumeni — and with a few changes that make no sense) would be a waste of time. If you haven’t, then Gumraah is a whodunnit with solid twists and turns that will keep you engaged, if you are not distracted by subpar acting by almost everyone.
The film opens on a rainy night with a man being murdered and a title card that says ‘The Crime’. Thanks, like the audience needed to be told that a person murdering another is a crime. Then the placard announces ‘The Investigation’, thanks once again, for explaining to a dumb me that police in uniform going through the crime scene is called an investigation.
At the scene of the investigation is SI Shivani Mathur (Mrunal Thakur, who mistakes deadpan as strict and no-nonsense) who gets a lead in the form of a selfie where the killer has been photographed in the background. ACP Dhiren Yadav (Ronit Roy, who is pretty over-the-top as the bad cop) identifies the killer as Arjun (Aditya Roy Kapur), a civil engineer living in Gurgaon and with whom, we quickly realise, he has an axe to grind.
With a flaky alibi, it seems Arjun, who is claiming innocence, is going to be nabbed, till a drunk and disorderly petty conman Ronnie (also Aditya Roy Kapur) is brought in who is a dead ringer of Arjun and eventually turns out to be his twin. While Arjun is suave and gentlemanly, Ronnie is the polar opposite with a cocky attitude and lewd gestures — a trope common to storylines with twins. And while the top cops investigating the murder pick their culprits, the audience is kept in the dark about who has actually killed a man that neither seemed to have any motive to.
Aditya is decent as the quieter, more reserved Arjun but seems uncomfortable in the skin of the cad-like Ronnie. He is, without a doubt, hot but even his holy hotness can’t distract one from the fact that he just can’t do the heavy lifting when it comes to acting. It’s the same thing that worked against Aditya in The Night Manager remake. The problem is no one sharing the screen with him in Gumraah has the power to carry the scene and the whole film suffers because of that. Throw in some unnecessary romance and drawn-out flashbacks and the film loses its taught pace and also the audience from time to time.
The end twist is still solid and Gumraah, which is inspired by various real-life instances of criminal cases, is an interesting whodunnit to spend a few hours this weekend watching, but don’t say you weren’t warned about its flaws.