Onto the next release of the weekend and it is raining remakes/adaptations in Bollywood! And with that I finished watching the new Hindi film Gumraah which is an official adaptation of the original Tamil film Thadam. Just for the record, this is the second consecutive weekend wherein Bollywood has churned out an adaptation, so if it was Bholaa last week, it is Gumraah this week. The thing with adaptations is that there are plenty of other factors that invariably come into play.
Adaptations might seem like the easiest yo execute, given that you do have a handy reference of the original. But instead, it is the opposite. Not only would the adaptation be compared and deconstructed with respect to the original, but the makers have to also read the characters, situations and the emotions accurately. Any deviations would be disastrous resulting in heavy criticism of the end product. Bollywood has not always got the adaptations correct.
Barring Drishyam 2 and Vikram Vedha(still a BO failure), none of the adaptations actually stood their ground, resulting in the audience dismissing them completely. And yet it is baffling that the industry which was once ruling the roosts is still privy to churning out remakes. Anyhow I did not have much expectations from Gumraah, given that it is a remake of the excellent Thadam which had previously been adapted in Telugu too, titled Red. Plus the Hindi dubbed version of Thadam is easily available for free on Youtube. But then does Gumraah manage to spring a surprise, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
An official adaptation of the original Tamil film Thadam, Gumraah follows the story of a crime being committed with the prime suspects being a set of twins. Which one is the murderer? The story, we all know, is exciting and unique in itself and definitely does pack a punch. Yet, if you already have watched the original then you would know exactly what is coming your way. And this for me was the biggest letdown of the film that just doesn’t have anything new to offer. In fact, even the proceedings are bland, something that I would highlight a little later in this segment. The screenplay standing at about a 130 minutes does make for a dragged narration which is devoid of any excitement and thrills.
We all remember Drishyam 2 and how big a success it was. One of the reasons for it working was that the core emotions of the drama were read and understood perfectly. But that is not the case with Gumraah. The drama does begin with a murder and the face of the murderer is straight up revealed. But if you have watched Thadam then there are two things that it did very well. In Thadam, the writers did create the right kind of ambience with plenty of rain and thunder whereas in Gumraah I did not feel the atmospherics at all. Secondly, the camera angle in Thadam was such that it did not quite reveal the face of the murderer straight up and instead played a bit almost like teasing the audience before the reveal. That was completely missing here where a bit of inexperience was reflected on the part of the makers.
The proceedings are just drab here and devoid of any sort of excitement. And one of the reasons for that is the characterization of most characters. If the misogynistic environment wasn’t enough(a criticism with the original too which did not add anything to the drama), the cardboard characters were just not there in the moment. For instance, the characters of Aditya Roy Kapur almost have similar traits, as opposed to one of them being subdued and restrained which was the USP of Thadam and Red. What that did was always root for that character given how ‘good’ he was until the grand reveal at the end. Here, I just did not sympathize or connect to the antics of the character who seemed to be slightly over-excited as opposed to being subdued.
The drama unfolds at the same bandwidth with no real peaks in the drama despite the twists and turns . The mystery was uncovered without much conviction even though the events were exactly the same as Thadam. The core emotions in place of the bond of the twins or the equations between characters was just not established at all. So the emotional core was missing wherein the focus was more on getting the job done rather than investing time with the characters. The final act where the grand reveal did take place, too was way too bland thus summing up the screenplay which is just not upto the mark.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues just do not exude much confidence and as a result there is zero impact with the lines. The music and BGM are good and atleast there is an effort made to keep the proceedings moving through these aspects. The cinematography was way off and did not leave a mark. The editing was filled with jump cuts that did dilute the overall product. In fact, in a few places, you could make out that there is a body double for Aditya Roy Kapur especially when both of his characters are in one frame. Clearly a cardinal sin! Director Vardhan Ketkar had a tall ask straight up and he misses the mark here. In fact, the inexperience was on full display here that did not result in the finished product being up to the mark. He would only improve from this experience and I hope that his next work isn’t an adaptation.
The performances are a mixed bag too. Ronit Roy as ACP Dhiren is good but these are the roles that you can guarantee that Ronit would sleepwalk through them, given the prolific actor that he is. So it needed a little more bite from him, either to go the intimidating route or the stoic route. This was somewhere in between. Vedika Pinto looks pretty and does a good job. Mrunal Thakur as Inspector Shivani is fabulous to watch and does a good job. However, she needs to be cautious with her script selection which has been off for a while now. And thus begins the curious case of Aditya Roy Kapur who is a wonderful talent but continuously choosing the wrong vehicle every single time. Here as Arjun and Sooraj, he misses the mark with both characters. Sooraj needed to be more rowdie and Arjun more mellow. Instead, this was more or less a similar portrayal of both characters wherein you clearly see him struggling. The demarcation just wasn’t there.
Gumraah is a bland and a poor rendition of Thadam that is a masterclass on how not to make an adaptation. Available in a theatre near you.