A Gentleman Review

Sidharth Malhotra plays the dual role of Rishi (left) and Gaurav Kapoor in “A Gentleman: Sundar, Susheel, Risky.” (photo provided)

Produced by: Fox Star Studios

Directed by: Raj & DK

Written by: Raj & DK, Sumit Batheja & Sita Menon

Music: Sachin-Jigar

Starring: Sidharth Malhotra, Jacqueline Fernandez, Suniel Shetty, Hussain Dalal, Amit Mistry, Rajit Kapur, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Darshan Kumaar, Chittaranjan Tripathy, Kunal Sharma, Zachary Coffin, Kushal Punjabi, Shaheed K. Woods and others

Here’s the good news: this is Raj & DK’s most commercial (read mainstream) film to date, with lavish songs, great action, a touch of emotions and family and an arch villain.

Here’s the better news: Raj & DK give the commercial action drama a highly individualistic spin, blending it with whacky comedy that is not always only about one-liners (sadly, most of the comedy today is defined on that basis!). The humor is almost on par with “Go Goa Gone,” its standard consistently high. But for their aberration of a debut, “99,” the duo has usually delivered qualitatively, and though it is sad that their good films work big only over time (like “Shor In The City” and “Go Goa Gone”), one hopes this works instantly as well.

At 2.13 hours, the minutes just zoom by as we get into action mode immediately. There is no spoiler after the truth is revealed almost immediately in the second half, no later twist in the tale and no unpredictable or knock out denouement. But I would call that a plus point because the film works despite that.

Yes, it is predictable, but how the predictable happens is still interesting. The wrap-up is very controlled, intelligent and a fitting culmination to a slick thriller.

Slick thriller? Yes, we would have to rack our brains to refresh memories of which was the last film in this genre that had this level of pace, content and style. “Badlapur” and “Ek Villain” were there, but those were dark zones and gory vendettas.

When we say slick thriller, we talk about those fast-paced, non-patriotic, action dramas that left us no time to think of gaffes or unexplained loopholes in the script. And again the great point here is that there ARE NO gaffes! Yes, we would rather turn Nelson’s eye on the basic premise that someone like Gaurav can be so educated and prosperous within a short while because, without that basic premise, this riveting action drama could not have been made. After all, it’s all about entertainment.

The story is about Miami executive Gaurav Kapoor (Sidharth Malhotra) who is so completely ‘propah’ he bores. At a young age, he has his own house, a family sedan, and is not only fond of cooking but also suffers from an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) that makes him keep his house spotlessly clean. He likes and then loves colleague Kavya (Jacqueline Fernandez), whom he now knows for 31 months. And therein lies a clue.

In Mumbai, there is Rishi (Malhotra again), foot-soldier to Colonel (Suniel Shetty), a ruthless renegade who now feathers his own nest, while initially, he had been a part of the country’s covert security force. Ironically, Rishi, who has been brought up by Colonel from a very young age, now yearns for a Gaurav kind of life.

As it has turned out, an official called Gaurav Kapoor (Kunal Sharma) had been killed by Colonel, according to Rishi’s opinion needlessly. Rishi then decides to adopt this Gaurav’s identity and flee abroad as he knows Colonel will not let him remain alive in India. And he chooses Miami.

The cracker pace, clever pacing, the alternate focus on Gaurav in Miami and Rishi in Mumbai, the rapid blending of action, songs, romance and comedy makes the film a complete rollercoaster of entertainment devoid of any crass elements or down market (read cheap or stupid) ingredients. The comic elements are a huge asset. For example, the sequence when Kavya’s parents (Rajit Kapur and Supriya Pilgaonkar) visit Gaurav’s home and the father’s chance peep into a bathroom where Gaurav’s hapless colleague Dikshit (Hussain Dalal) is stuck with a black in the bathtub is hilarious.

There are some pardonable set comedy acts, like Patel’s vegetarian burger stall and the one-upmanship game at an office party, or the sequence in the car between Gaurav, Kavya and her parents as well as a comic henchman Jignesh (Amit Mistry). What was not quite convincing was Dikshit’s turnaround in the end from a wimp to an action guy, and also how Kavya is won over by Rishi within minutes, though he has admitted that he has murdered many innocent people.

Sachin-Jigar’s music is likable, especially “Disco Disco” (used in the end-credits), “Baat Ban Jaaye” (superbly filmed) and “Chandralekha,” while their background score is excellent. A huge pat is indicated for DOP Roman Jakobi, production designer Aparna Sud and action directors Cyril Raffaelli, Parvez Shaikh and George Aguilar for excellence in their respective fields. The same applies to costume designers Manoshi Nath, Rushi Sharma and Niharika Jolly.

Sidharth Malhotra is the backbone of this film with his superb portrayals of Gaurav and Rishi in this rather unusual dual role. As a movie, this is undoubtedly his best after “Hasee Toh Phasee” and “Ek Villain, ” and as a performance, the same applies. He is extremely lovable as Gaurav (who needs only a wife and kids to complete his perfect life after owning a huge house, a big car and having a cushy job), and we find ourselves rooting for the likable Rishi, who is so programmed by the Colonel that he is anguished when he comes to realize the difference between right and wrong in every aspect of life and now craves for a family.

As for Jacqueline Fernandez, this is simply her best performance ever. She has indeed evolved into a skilled actor who is very comfortable both in the Hindi language and in a Hindi film. Hussain Dalal is superb, and Amit Mistry is good too.

Rajit Kapur and (especially) Supriya Pilgaonkar are perfect as the Indian parents being themselves even in American waters. Suniel Shetty impresses, and Darshan Kumaar is good in the one-dimensional role of the Colonel’s always loyal and evil protégé.

In short, go, watch this smooth entertainer.

Rating: ***1/2

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