In the last few years Raj & DK, have delivered back-to-back streaming successes with shows like The Family Man and Farzi, both of which were released on Prime Video and became instant sensations loved by critics and audiences alike. This time they have partnered with Netflix to bring us a new dark comedy series titled Guns and Gulaabs which they co-wrote, produced and directed. It stars an ensemble cast of Rajkummar Rao, Dulquer Salmaan, Adarsh Gourav, Satish Kaushik and Gulshan Devaiah among others. When such a talented cast and proven filmmakers come together for a project, expectations are set high.
The series is set in the early 90s in a town called Gulaabgunj, a hub for the opium trade controlled by Ganchi (Satish Kaushik). His son Chhota Ganchi (Adarsh Gourav) wants to impress his father and prove that he is ready to take over his legacy. Elsewhere, Paana Tipu (Rajkummar Rao) who is a lowly mechanic and the newly transferred Narcotics Officer Arjun Varma (Dulquer Salmaan) find themselves in a muddle and are trying to get out of it. The storylines of all our leads intertwine seamlessly at various points and the series is probably at its strongest when most of them are together.
The writers have come up with a bunch of interestingly unique characters, each of them engaging in their own way. The leads are all very different from each other and have their own set of motivations for their actions. But 4-cut Atmaram (Gulshan Devaiah) is probably the most compelling one out of the bunch as he carries a certain aura wherever he goes and has a lot of mystery surrounding him as we do not know a lot about him and his depth is relatively unexplored, and Devaiah’s portrayal of him is just brilliant as he is an absolute scene-stealer.
Other acting standouts include Rajkummar Rao as Tipu, who once again shows his range as an actor. People might think that this role is similar to his character in Ludo, but he manages to differentiate Tipu over the course of the season. Dulquer Salmaan and Adarsh Gourav also do well in their roles. The ladies in the show are not the strongest both in terms of character and in terms of performance, but they do okay to support others on screen. The pacing is relatively consistent for most parts and the tone is as whacky, silly and over-the-top as you can imagine, but somehow it works, mostly. The editing also gives scenes enough room to breathe.
The story is engaging for the most part with intriguing turns at regular intervals. It may not be a ground-breaking script and also not as cohesive as you would hope which is one of the few weaknesses of this series, but it maintains the viewer’s attention throughout. Some of the subplots seemed unnecessary or dragged and one or two characters could also have used a little more depth to them. The directors also do a fabulous job at building this fascinating world full of drama, violence and chaos while maintaining the retro 90s vibe. It is not easy to handle so many storylines and subplots, but they manage to bring it together in an entertaining and satisfying manner, with one of the most clever and imaginative finales you’ll ever see.
Guns and Gulaabs is an absolute rollercoaster ride from start to finish that is outlandishly over the top, yet thoroughly entertaining. The lead performances are excellent and their outrageous antics will keep you glued to the screen. The stylistic elements work really well with the retro vibe, and the script is fully aware of its own eccentricity and provides plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. It is almost overloaded with creativity which may be too much for some, but this series will definitely win a lot of hearts.
Guns and Gulaabs releases on Netflix on August 18.