Thursday, June 14, 2012

Gunda (1998)

Ever since I started watching movies from India, Gunda has always been in the background. And I've never understood people opinions about it. Take a look at the IMDB comments and you'll read stuff like "a classic tale of revenge and social correction", "Amazing performances with THE best storyline", "A work of art", "Awesome!! Watch it to believe it!!", "A Masterwork!! Genius and Unique" and so on - and I can't figure out if people are sarcastic or not, because everywhere else on the web I find long articles that describes how bad this movie REALLY is. What the hell is going on?! Because Gunda IS bad. Very bad, but it's so damn entertaining and absurd that I can - to a certain point - understand the love for it.

Mithun Chakraborty is Shankar, a worker (in the harbour, I think...), an honest man with a lovely sister and a hard-working dad, a nobody inside the police force. He's stuck between the local baddies, lead by the moustached Bulla (Mukesh Rishi), his gay (but no one seem aware of this) brother Chutiya (Shakti Kapoor) and a bunch of other colourful characters. Shit hits the fan when Shankar's sister is married to a man who suddenly is a pimp, forcing her to have sex with Chutiya - who manages to rape her to death after taking a sex-drug his brother gives him! Shankar becomes furious and starts taking a gruesome revenge on everyone involved in his sister deaths, and more or less every other bad guy who comes in his way!

This sounds like a typical B-grade Indian action-thriller and it is - but it's also extremely over-the-top. Not just the cheap and tacky action scenes, but the dialogue (I understand we who don't understand Hindi misses a lot when reading the subtitles) and the performances. We're not talking anything subtle here. Everyone is screaming the dialogue, rolling their eyes, standing talking towards the camera like they are on a stage. This might be part of the concept of Gunda, but it certainly looks and feels very strange and bizarre. Some of the actors uses this well, like Mukesh Rishi as Bulla. He also looks cool and he completely owns the screen. Kapoor is fun, but the gay-thing just seems a bit too forced and everything gets even more confusing when he turns to a raving heterosexual rapist during the last half of the movie! Mithun looks, to be honest, tired and not focused. He's never in the character and kinda sleeps through many scenes. He reminds me of Hugo Stiglitz in Nightmare City, a man wishing to be somewhere else.

The best thing with Gunda is the crazy action sequences. Not good by any means. They are sloppily made and the primitive editing doesn't help, but that's just cool because it brings a refreshing trashiness to the visuals and it's always nice seeing people flying in slow-motion, doing backwards jumps, spurting blood and screaming like they never died before in a movie. Every scene tries to outdo the last one. Just when I thought Mithun beating a guy into the ground (like in a cartoon) the final comes! Dozens and dozens of rickshaw's attacks Mithun - who defend himself with a rocket gun who magically reloads itself with a new rocket over and over again, shooting the rickshaw's to pieces and then, by hand, defend himself against all the surviving drivers and Bulla himself in the end.

It's a parody. It feels like that anyway, and I love it. Never seen anything like it.

Vulgar, violent, over-the-top, bloody and very trashy, Gunda is a very entertaining piece of Indian trash-cinema who deserves its place in cinema history. 


Anonymous said...

"the local baddies, lead by the moustached Bulla"


A bad guy in indian cinema with a moustache.....?

Yeah...I jest....but still moustaches in Bollywood cinema is common.

"who defend himself with a rocket gun who magically reloads itself with a new rocket over and over again"

I love it when it happen in Hollywood films....stuff like that is awesome.

Cool review Ninja.


Alex B. said...

Mithun is a legend. And you comparing him to Stiglitz makes me wanna see Gunda!

Ninja Dixon said...

Thank you Megatron!

Alex, yes, he's AWESOME! And Hugo to of course! :D

Bangali Baba said...

half of the hilarity comes from the hindi dialogues which rhyme. another thing, dunno if you know, shakti kapoor's character chutiya is actually a cuss word which adds to the fun.

Anonymous said...

Hi, the review will remain incomplete till you make sense of the dialogs minus the subtitles. The dialogs have to be comprehended in spoken Hindi, which is where the movie derives 99.9999% of its humor-factor

Ninja Dixon said...

Well, then the review will forever be incomplete because I never gonna learn Hindi :) I can remove it if you want to, if you feel it's an annoying addition to the reviews of Gunda?

Anonymous said...

I was only impyling that you team-up with someone who knows it

Anonymous said...

What other fellow mean that dialogues are funnier in hindi. I could convert in english where it will seem funny for name is bulla and i let it open could be " I am Copen and i always let it open". and I am chutiya( similar to slang chootiya which means Fucker/ dickhead .dnt mind my language) could be converted to " my name is fuscker, and i have everyone my way forever".
this movie is so bad that it is actually good, if we forget science and logic for 2 hours. :D