‘Guddu Ki Gun:’ Toy Story

MUMBAI: The Indian Censor Board was much in news ever since its new chairman, Pahlaj NIhalani took over. All that mainly for blocking films for use of bad words. A week or so back, one watched a film called Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 with hundreds of blips suppressing words like ch***ya. So, what do we have this week was found suitable by the very same Censor Board conveniently named Central Board Of Film Certification aka CBFC?

We have a rewritten modern fairytale, Guddu Ki Gun. In original fairytales, one read of a man turning to stone or a frog or gold. Here, in this contemporary fairytale, we have a story of a young man whose vital part, his claim to manhood, turning to gold! Filmmaking can’t get any more irrelevant! 

Kunal Khemu, a Bihari migrant in Kolkata, is a door-to-door salesman and the predictable product he vends is a powerful detergent. While his detergent may or may not work on clothes, his charm certainly works on his female clientele. He seduces them all; so much so that he even maintains a diary noting his conquests.

One among his victims is a young nubile girl to whom Khemu professes his love and takes advantage of her innocence. The girl’s grandpa happens to be a big time Kali bhakt and to get even, puts a hex on Khemu because of which his manhood turns into gold! He has all feelings in his now perpetually intruding vital part. Khemu can’t figure out what causes his discomfort when his friend, Sumeet Vyas, suggests that it has to be one of his women who put a curse on him. 

Khemu follows the list on his diary ticking off each of his ‘clients’ who could have done this until he finally remembers the innocent girl he betrayed. After much pleading, the girl’s grandpa withdraws his curse conditionally: Khemu has to find true love and stay loyal to her come whatever. That is when he would be normal again.

Meanwhile, a local don and an antique dealer are after Khemu to rid him of the very cause of his problem, the golden tool. They feel it is worth lakhs in the international market! Then Khemu comes across a girl, Payel Sarkar, in whose presence he feels normal again. Thinking she is the solution to his problem, Khemu asks for her hand in marriage. He has two problems: the girl is ugly with pockmarks on her face and her father wants Rs 10 lakh from Khemu. He has a one week deadline.

Guddu Ki Gun is actually a stupid film treated in an old-fashioned way. It is loud and not funny in most parts. Song are placed at random as if its a ritual. Khemu overacts throughout. Sumeet is restrained and good. Payel Sarkar is natural despite limited footage. Flora Saini excels.

Guddu Ki Gun, meant to be a cheap adult comedy, fails even on that count.

Producer: Emenox Media P Ltd

Directors: Sheershak Anand, Shantanu Ray Chhibber

Cast: Kunal Khemu, Sumeet Vyas, Payel Sarkart, Flora Saini, Brijendra Kala

Main Aur Charles:’ Slick & Stylish

Not unlike the legendary ‘villain heroes’ in the West, we too have had some of them hogging newspaper headlines over the years. Charles Shobhraj was one of them who appeared on front pages through 70s and the early 80s. Born of a Sindhi father and a Vietnamese mother and christened Gurmukh Shobhraj, he was a French criminal who committed murders and other crimes across half of the universe. While in Asia, his prime targets were the hippie backpacking tourists. 

Shobhraj built his lavish lifestyle around killing and stealing from his victims. He sort of mesmerised his victims, holding a special kind of sway over women who he came across to the extent that they stood by him even after learning of his criminal activities. It is hard to say if he committed more murders or married more women! Shobhraj also murdered people to grab their passports and forge them for his own use.

Main Aur Charles is a 123 minute account of the criminal phase of  Shobhraj’s life, mainly the peak period of his criminal activities. Shobhraj has already been a subject of a few books and documentaries. Despite being based on the life and times of Shobhraj, the film flashes the mandatory disclaimer of being a fiction at the start.

Randeep Hooda plays Shobhraj. While a lot of women play the parts of the glamourour ladies that came into his life periodically, as far as Hindi films go, Richa Chadda plays the female lead.  Since the film claims to be a fiction, Richa replaces the Nepali girl, NIhita Biswas. Richa, a law student, is mesmerised when she sees Shobhraj for the first time arguing his own case in a court. From that moment on, she is devoted to Shobhraj.

The film deals with Shobhraj’s killings in Thailand in a montage, not wanting to dwell into details. For, after all, the victims did not mean anything to Shobhraj himself; they were just means to his ends. Shobhraj has a razor sharp brain which, sadly, is overpowered by his overconfidence. For all the crimes he commits, the evidence against him never goes beyond circumstantial; there is not enough proof to convict him. 

Being the calculative criminal that he is, Shobhraj is serving a sentence in Tihar jail in Delhi. He knows that once out, he would be deported to Thailand where he is sure to face a shooting squad. He uses his knack to bribe and win over the jail staff to escape by drugging the entire jail staff. This is his ploy to get his Tihar sentence extended so as to not face a Thai shooting squad. 

Shobhraj crisscrosses between continents and it is while he is in Goa that the police nabs him. The police as well as Shobhraj know that the proof against him in India, which can be proven is only jail break and can’t amount to more than a three year sentence.

But, crime never pays is an adage that has more often than not passed the test of time. Shobhraj, out of jail, settles down in France but being the adventurous soul that he is, he makes the foolish decision to visit Nepal where he was wanted for murders. Nepal jail is where he is still cooling his heels.

Main Aur Charles has been written and directed by Prawaal Raman. His background as filmmaker seems to start with Ramgopal Verma, which shows in certain aspects of his treatment of the film. He hurries through initial parts mixing flashbacks and present at random managing to create a bit of confusion in the viewers’ minds. He probably thinks his viewers know the legend of Shobhraj too well to waste time on establishing the gory crimes of the criminal whose story he intends to tell. Sadly, his story and his viewers are a few generations apart. 1970 was the last century; Main Aur Charles is 2015. 

At interval time, Shobhraj is nabbed and one thinks this is it, what more is left to see? However, to his credit, Raman gets his grip back. This part is all about one-upmanship between the cops, Adil Hussain, being the top cop from Delhi Police handling the case. 

To Raman’s credit, his handling technically is slick and stylish. The use of background music is effective. The use of the film’s single song is good. Dialogue carries at places. Cinematography captures this mostly outdoor film well.

The film’s best part is its casting, well almost. Because, while Randeep Hooda fits Shobhraj to the T, Richa Chadda is a misfit. Richa hardly looks like a law student; in fact she looks much older and to add to that, her makeup and dressing make her look dowdy. To add to her woes, all the other women who play passing roles in the film are chic, glamorous and pretty. While the supporting cast does well, the three who make a mark are Adil, Tisca Chopra and Vipin Sharma. 

Main Aur Charles is a well-executed film albeit with its appeal limited to elite multiplex audience; like with real life Shobhraj, the film too may appeal more to female audience. Having been released in dull pre-Diwali period, the film’s opening is poor. It can only count on positive critic reviews and word of mouth for some improvement over the weekend.

Producers: Amit Kapoor, Vikram Khakhar, Raju Chadha

Director: Prawaal Raman

Cast: Randeep Hooda, Adil Hussain, Alexx O’nell, Richa Chadda, Tisca Chopra, Vipin Sharma

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