Bollywood simply lacks the grammar of the South Indian masala fare to make vigilante films. Krish is very much a director from down south with a filmography that boasts of some interestingly done films – even if end products are all not that great – but you can see in Gabbar is Back where he’s incapacitated. Gabbar is Back is a remake of A.R. Murguasoss’s Ramanaa and the story is credited to him. Akshay Kumar plays Gabbar, the alter ego of Aditya, who kidnaps corrupt officials and knocks off the most corrupt among them.
On the surface, Gabbar is a faithful remake of Ramanaa and goes by the books. But where Murugadoss makes things interesting and keeps you guessing, Krish falters with a lot of pedestrian filmmaking. There is absolutely no craft or skill in presenting things. Krish thinks he’s clever when someone eulogizes Gabbar’s intentions and he immediately cuts to the overacting police officials calling him a devil. Overacting is another trait in this overreaching film. Akshay Kumar is fine and he’s done his fair share of similar angry old man roles. But everyone around him makes you reach for your cellphone. The police officials, Shruti Hassan who just discovered Google in 2015 (and also helps her friend deliver a baby in the backseat of a car in a shoddy scene in a film full of shoddy scenes), Suman as The Brand. See it to believe it. Or not.
Krish also opts for multiple flashbacks that robs the film off little liveliness it has going. Ramanaa had a more coherent thread in the back story that made you feel for the characters while Aditya’s story is laughably shot with a song where Kareena Kapoor is clueless as to what to do. There is no urgency, no representation of any sort of familial bonding that makes the present day story more gratifying. Also Krish cannot figure out the times the story is set in. On one hand Gabbar tapes a CD to the dead bodies of the corrupt officials (and this is what the original that released in 2002 did too) but on the other he name drops social media, Twitter, trending topics effortlessly turning heavyweight scenes into unintentional comedy. It’s quite an achievement when between Gabbar is Back and Ramanaa – which had Vijaykanth scrolling through names in what was really Windows Media Player – it is the former that draws more laughter at the most inappropriate moments.
(An edited version of this was published in The New Indian Express)