BY ARNAB BANERJEE
Film: Gumraah. Duration: 127 minutes.
Director: Vardhan Ketkar. Cast: Aditya Roy Kapur, Mrunal Thakur and Ronit Roy.
Cinematography: Vineet Malhotra. Music: Ketan Sodha, Mithoon, Vishal Mishra, Tanishk Bagchi and Abhijit Vaghani.
This seems to be the year of Hindi remakes of South Indian hits, what with every Friday release banking heavily on either the original box office successes of Tamil or Telugu films. This week, after the official remake of ‘Bholaa’ last week, comes ‘Gumraah’, a yet another Hindi remake of the Tamil film, ‘Thadam’.
As per the credits, ‘Gumraah’, helmed by debutant director Vardhan Ketkar, is a crime thriller and is based on several real-life stories of two identical twins from around the world. For a thriller to engage audiences for two and a half hours, the storyline itself must be interesting, and on that count, the film has a very fascinating premise.
A man wearing a hooded raincoat rings the bell of an apartment where a young man Akash is seen working on his laptop. As Akash opens the door, the man forcibly enters and stabs him multiple times, leaving him dead within minutes. Inspector Shivani Mathur (Mrunal Thakur) is assigned to investigate the murder, and she gets down to her “academy-based research and enquiry” right from the word go.
It doesn’t take her long to identify the man who’s the prime suspect, and within no time Arjun Bhatnagar (Aditya Roy Kapur) is arrested. His arrest is based on the evidence provided by a young couple who happened to be clicking selfies on the terrace of the apartment opposite to the one where the murder took place. One of their pictures shows the suspected murderer from a distance and upon zooming it, Arjun’s face can be clearly identified.
As Arjun gets locked up in prison, Shivani’s senior, ACP Dhiren Yadav (Ronit Roy), gets to know that a look-alike of Arjun named Ronnie (Aditya, again) has been nabbed by the cops for a petty crime. Both Arjun and Ronnie are brought in and investigated without their knowledge of each other’s existence. The two lookalike suspects, who don’t know about each other are a mystery as much to themselves as they are for the police.
The story then moves ahead with two teams getting down to unearthing the backgrounds of both Arjun and Ronnie. Interestingly, as more details emerge about the two men, matters get more complicated for Shivani, especially when she uncovers new facts about the case. Inspector Yadav interrogates Ronnie, who cites different laws to escape torture.
What follows is a mish-mash of several evidence-based twists that leave us more confused than enlightened. At times, there are unnecessary turns that digress from the primary probe and stall proceedings. A few songs and a romantic angle have been thrown in for good measure to further mystify an already muddled narrative.
But the worst of the lot is the justification that director Vardhan Ketkar and writers Aseem Arora and Magizh Thirumeni offer about the incidents/murders allegedly committed by identical twins worldwide. As per the factual details provided in the film, when brothers are principal suspects, they have often been exonerated because of insufficient evidence.
For a crime thriller, Gumraah’s screenplay is so dull that at every moment of its 127 minutes one wonders which way it is headed. A back story about twin brothers and their hapless childhood is added as an afterthought and even that doesn’t add up much to salvage the sudden awkward surprises that one is subjected to.
Aditya Roy Kapur sleepwalks his roles, while occasionally springing into action during the fight scenes. Thakur as the no-nonsense cop presents such a staid image of herself that she almost look robotic.
Cinematography by Vineet Malhotra is nothing to write home about either, and the musical score by Ketan Sodha and the songs, credited to Mithoon, Vishal Mishra, Tanishk Bagchi and Abhijit Vaghani, are not even hummable. Perhaps, there was no scope for songs to be included in a drama supposedly laden with suspense.
Post-Covid, it takes such an effort to plan an outing and go all the way to a theatre to watch a film. And if even for a film with a decent budget and good performers, one has to sit through a dreary and lacklustre experience, it’s nothing short of a criminal waste of time.