It’s not easy to make a smart sassy film with two airheaded non-actors in the lead. Co-directors Raj and DK known to perform miracles with stars (remember Tusshar Kapoor in Shor In The City?) does the near-impossible.
A Gentlemen is a suave sexy pyramid of posh locations and peachy leads who know how to hold their sushi and Guccis in place without looking like wannabes. The film is a clever reworking of the doppelganger formula where the co-directors have cheekily manipulated the timeline in the narrative to make us think there are two Sidharth Malhotras in the plot.
Malhotra socks his punches and sucks on those over-painted lips like a fleamarket version of Tom Cruise. He even does a gay act in a bar with a government official (Chittranjan Tripathy, excellent) to get confidential information. But like many of the cleverly staged comic action sequences this one too overstays its welcome.
The otherwise-wooden actor is fully aware that this is his do-or-die attempt at Cruise control. Malhotr gives it his best shot…the gun or the tequila, take your pick. He gets to do two different looks. But the two different expressions??!!….No problem… The assassin in Mumbai wears a grimace and the whitecollar worker in Miami wears a loopy grin.
Bas, kaam khatam. The rest is for the directorial duo to achieve. To their credit Raj and DK’s direction is sharp and witty. The script seems original most of the time. The writing is sharp, sometimes a bit too clever. The narrative tends to trip over its own smartness. This happens more than once and after a while the storytelling tires us out with its indefatigable energy-boosted antics.
Admittedly the stunts are trippy and enticing. And the action is refreshingly calm and unhurried. In one lengthy crisply choreographed sequence a car is wedged between two skyscrapers as Malhotra and his adversary played by Darshan Kumaar (sadly misused) indulge in a ferocious fistfight.
Indeed, the narrative derives it energy from its elaborately conceived action scenes. These, ironically also suck the life and breath out of the characters making them look robotic and over-groomed.
Nonetheless the co-directors manage to pull off an engaging film, more remarkable for its isolated but striking sense of upwardly-mobile aesthetics than for instilling habitable emotions in its characters. More often than not, the film seems a vehicle to promote Sidharth Malhotra’s versatility… his performing range goes right from A to C…the rest of the alphabet be damned. His co-star is struck in a 144-expressions-per-frame time warp.
Really, where do we find these beach-friendly Bollywood bimbos? If you want to see real acting, watch Rajit Kapoor and Sipriya Pilgaonkar as Fernandez’s anxious parents. They are a scream. And Husain Dalaal as the hero’s best friend is a show-stopper.After a killing spree he confesses, ‘I am born again. Earlier my wife would scream, ‘That’s it?’. Now she screams, ‘Stop it.’
Our thoughts exactly as we go from a feeling of watching a cleverly constructed film to a sense of over-constructed but nevertheless engaging spry spy comedy.