The lady’s just ensured that the gentleman’s close-to-heart vehicle of fantasy has had a neat, paint-peeling scratch across its body.
“Where did you learn how to drive?” he asks sweetly, but obviously pained.
Deadpan, and matter-of-factly comes her reply: “Xbox.”
A Gentleman, directed by Krishna D.K. and Raj Nidimoru traverses the journey of popcorn entertainment on such crackling dialogues, penned by Sumit Batheja. The director duo, having previously helmed mostly tight and engaging projects (a wired-up Bombay gangsta rap, check; a rip-roaring zombie adventure set in beer-belly-cose Goa, check; a zingy gambler-meets-gangster-meets-buffoons roulette, check) save for the self-indulgent Happy Ending that lost its way in its quest to be metro-existential, find their groove here, wrapping their trademark self-deprecating humor around quirky, yet relatable characters.
The movie opens with a car sliding in reverse, the driver oblivious to his hand-brake mistake, answering nature’s call. And when he does realize it, it’s too late as it sidles down the road, and an oncoming cab crashes into it. You don’t know who the occupants of the cab are, although you’re pretty sure these are the streets of Mumbai. The voice over flies you over into a stunning Miami layout, and you meet Gaurav (Sidharth Malhotra), taking possession of his swanky new house, living the big American dream while fantasizing the big Indian fantasy – a wife and kids to fill the new address with. Gaurav already has someone in mind – co-worker and friend Kavya (Jacqueline Fernandez), a wide-eyed modern talking woman who knows what she wants and who she doesn’t. And Gaurav she doesn’t want – not romantically, at least. Gaurav is a mild-mannered creature of habit –he’s also got a bit of an OCD as he rearranges things back in order at his workstation – and later, does it again so instinctively even when he faces a life-or-death situation. There are other subtle hints to his persona – he’ll slide a coaster under the beer mug that Kavya’s about to place on his center table as they binge on Netflix. Nice guy, but not adventurous enough for her.
Enter Rishi (Sidharth Malhotra again), a bone-breaking, precision-wired killing machine in Mumbai, working for Colonel (Suneil Shetty, looking mighty proud of his well-manicured facial fungus), who’s trained and built an army of assassins to carry out his orders – even as they run afoul of the official intelligence agency. All the while, Rishi’s pining for a better life, one that has a family and home as the perfect life’s accoutrements. You don’t need to be much of a soothsayer to predict that the Miami-based Gaurav will eventually catch a flight to Mumbai, and run into the Colonel’s gang. There’s also Kavya’s parents (a very likeable cameo by Supriya Pilgaonkar and Rajit Kapoor) who land up in Miami, and Gaurav’s office friend, Dikshit (Husain Dalal); while at the killing team’s end there’s Yakub (Darshan Kumar, very, very good and deadly), and a Gujarati Mafioso, Jignesh Patel (Amit Mistry) based out of Miami, whose laundry business cleans out more than clothes.
A Gentleman moves swiftly, bunging and valencing all these characters into action using a plot that’s mostly an excuse for fun and some collar-breaking martial arts, some office bobbery, and even a dead body being dragged around a house to avoid detection.
The directors don’t futz around, and before the interval spin a neat little twist that makes you go back in your mind to admire their yentzing skills. Doffing their respective hats to a host of genres and movie-makers and yet retaining their sardonic look at gang-madness, corporate dreariness and the urge of cubicle-jailed inmates to break free, Raj & DK construct some laugh-aloud-nervously scenes – note the Guy Ritchieish scene at the Chinese Embassy break-in, where a nervous trio’s tics increases as a time bomb ticks away; or the scene where Gaurav takes Kavya out for dinner, and ends up swilling the champagne glass that he switches at the last minute; or the client-presentation-gone-awry no thanks to a unbooted luggage from a car boot. There’s more, and it’s all zingy, done with popcorn élan.
Of the cast, Sidharth Malhotra lends a quiet likeability to his Gaurav – his sincerity to work and life making you guffaw, partly because you know the director duo is actually cocking a snook at everything corporate – while turboing some terrific action as the restless-leg-syndrome-Rishi, making you wonder what prop he’ll use next as his KO’ing device. (The directors use a clear demarcating lens filter for his roles – a sunny, upscale look for Miami, and a darker, grimmer lighting for Mumbai). Jacqueline Fernandez sparkles in her act, never mind her faux accent – and when she sidles up a pole in a party number, those magnificently-toned legs that supported all of the cumbersome baleful-edict that was Roy and the insufferable Kick, make a collective sigh go up in the cinema hall – those who want them and those who want them. Husain Dalal is superb, reminding of your office joie de vivre friend, adding a much needed pizzaz to your work.
Part of the pleasure of watching a mainstream commercial entertainer that works is that you want to be in it too, even if for a fleeting, day-dreaming second. That it hits you during the aforementioned party number (and not just for those legs) says a lot for the verve and energy the music and choreography transmit. Malhotra displays some nifty knee-and-feet moves for the catchy Sachin-Jigar composed Chandralekha (their background music is very good too, as they use electric guitars and synthesizers to pump up the fun, while their congas add that rhythmic mischief, a la the Ocean’s Eleven score) – the editing’s smart and snazzy, the song’s got a maddeningly sassy sax hook and a Rahul Dev Burman-reminiscent antara, and you’ve got a smile on your face. That alone is worth the price of your ticket, as it used to be in the good old days of kitsch and lost-and-found formulaic madness.
A Gentleman is rated U/A ((parental Guidance for children below the age of 12 years). There’s jealousy-inducing hot bods of the lead pair, an intimate scene, and violence.
Directors Krishna D.K., Raj Nidimoru Running Time 2h 25 min
Writers Krishna D.K., Raj Nidimoru, Sita Menon, Suman Kumar, Siraj Kalla
Stars Sidharth Malhotra, Jacqueline Fernandez, Suneil Shetty, Darshan Kumar, Husain Dalal
Genres Action, Comedy, Romance