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Film Review: A Gentleman

LiveMint logoLiveMint 25-08-2017 Uday Bhatia

It takes a good hour for A Gentleman to turn into something recognizably Raj and DK. For admirers of Shor In The City and unabashed lovers of 99, this is a frustratingly long wait. The first half of their latest film has the unengaging glossy glibness of lesser filmmakers—certainly less capable writers. That famous Raj Nidimoru-Krishna DK-Sita Menon pace is missing, though you also have to wonder whether Sidharth Malhotra and Jacqueline Fernandez are any sort of delivery mechanism for quick wit.

Malhotra plays Gaurav, a square, sweet executive living in Miami, heads over heels for colleague Kavya (Fernandez). She, however, finds him dull and “not her type”—something only people who look like Fernandez are allowed to say about people who look like Malhotra. What Kavya doesn’t know—but we do—is that there’s another, more exciting version of Gaurav. His name is Rishi; he’s a member of a covert operations team called Unit X, headed by the shady, pitiless Colonel (Suniel Shetty). Having spent most of his existence in the hired assassin business, Rishi wants out; imagine Jason Bourne with better cheekbones and given to saying things like “I want more from life.”

For a good while, we don’t know if Gaurav and Rishi are the same person, or two very different individuals with the same face (it’s Hindi cinema, so both options are on the table). Once this is cleared up, A Gentleman briefly finds its feet. Eccentric gags have always worked for Raj and DK, and there’s one with a washing machine that kicks off 15 minutes of nonsense involving, but not limited to, puran poli, an ill-timed visit by Kavya’s parents, and an altogether-too-brief glimpse of Miami’s “desi store mafia”. It’s nowhere near the inspired lunacy of 99, but for a film that’s barely registered a pulse up till now, it’ll do.

By the truly dismal standards of Indian action comedies, A Gentleman is a middling offender—but what does that even mean? It’s irresponsible to extol this film for not being an embarrassment, for avoiding tacky CGI and slo-mo, for stringing together a few reasonable close-combat scenes. Raj and DK lack even the will to make Gaurav a convincing dweeb. In one scene, he karaoke-serenades an aghast Kavya with “Bas Ek Sanam Chaahiye”—which is funny—but then launches into a leading man number that’s completely out of character.

Malhotra does his usual impression of an impossibly good-looking man in search of some screen presence. Shetty looks as fit and uncomfortable around words as ever. Fernandez does her dialogue coach proud. I’d worry about Raj and DK wasting their time with a sequel, but something tells me it isn’t forthcoming.

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