Gabbar is Back (2015): Indian filmmaker Krish's summer blockbuster with strong socio-political commentary starring Akshay Kumar

A nice blend of action, drama and suspense 

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Gabbar is Back, Directed by Krish, Movie Poster, starring Akshay Kumar, Shruti Hassan
Gabbar is Back (2015) By Krish
Our Rating: 7.0
IMDb Ratings: 8.9
Genre: Action | Crime | Drama
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Shruti Haasan, Suman Talwar
Country: India
Language: Hindi
Runtime: 128 min
Color: Color

Summary: A grief-stricken man takes the law into his own hands when he begins to kidnap and murder corrupt public servants.


Gabbar is Back is a 2015 action thriller film directed by Telugu filmmaker Radha Krishna Jagarlamudi (aka Krish) whose previous assignments include award-winning feature films like Gamyam and Vedam. Produced by renowned Hindi filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Gabbar is Back is a remake of the 2002 Tamil film Ramanaa directed by A. R. Murugadoss. Gabbar is Back stars Akshay Kumar, Shruti Haasan, Suman Talwar and comedian Sunil Grover in major roles. The movie features cameos from Chitrangada Singh (who performs a sizzling item number) and Kareena Kapoor Khan. The movie presents the tale of grief-stricken man who turns into a vigilante and decides to clean up the system from corruption by kidnapping and murdering corrupt public servants. And, perhaps, in order to put fear into the hearts of corrupt men, he cheekily borrows the moniker ‘Gabbar’ from the much dreaded bandit in Ramesh Sippy’s blockbuster Sholay (1975).

Akshay Kumar as Gabbar aka Aditya in Gabbar is Back, unleashes his fury, Directed by Krish
Akshay Kumar in Gabbar is Back
Even since independence (and even before), Hindi cinema (often referred to as Bollywood) played an instrumental role in highlighting the issues of national importance, not to mention the pivotal role it played, time and again, in eliciting a strong feeling of patriotism that kept  the nation together in the times of need: be it war or natural calamities. But, it all changed around the 1990s with the Nehruvian socialism making way for liberalization, globalization, and privatization. As India slowly became an open economy, Hindi cinema began to experience an Anglicization of sorts with the growing influence of the Indian diaspora (best demonstrated by films like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Pardes, Namastey London, etc.) as it started catering primarily to the English speaking Indians vis-à-vis all of India as was the case earlier. After a long hiatus, Hindi cinema is finally returning to its roots as we see more and more films trying to take up national and social issues. And, Gabbar is Back, is a fine example of this welcome change: a film that both entertains and offers food for thought.

Shruti Haasan with Akshay Kumar in Gabbar is Back (2015), post surgery look, Directed by Krish
Shruti Haasan (left) in Gabbar is Back
Today, Hindi cinema is going through a very exciting phase. On one hand we have typical masala flicks with sure shot success formulae, while on the other we have an upcoming crop of indie filmmakers leading a whole new avant-garde movement. What makes films like ‘Gabbar is Back’ important is that they are a cross between these two brands of filmmaking! The common audiences are easily wooed by commercial escapism but they are mostly indifferent to thought-provoking cinema. It is here that a film like ‘Gabbar is Back’ can make a difference. The ultimate aim of cinema, like any other art form, should be to inspire the masses.  Now, when the masses would go and see a film like ‘Gabbar is Back,’ they will certainly come out thinking. To its credit, the movie doesn't try to hide or camouflage the social message and is rather quite vocal in its propagation of it. And it achieves this by perfectly blending entertainment with some decent fodder to ruminate upon.

Kareen Kapoor Khan during a cameo appearance, with Akshay Kumar, Rain Dance, Gabbar is Back, Directed by Krish
Kareena Kapoor Khan makes a cameo appearance in Gabbar is Back
Gabbar is Back targets the very root causes of corruption: the ignorance of the common man, the insatiable greed of the government officials bolstered by the absence of the fear of law. Now, there is no country in the world that can claim to be free from corruption. Also, corruption is not new to our country. And yet corruption has become an issue of national importance during the last half a decade or so. Today, the people are more aware than ever about the ill effects of corruption (of course, the media has played a crucial role in spreading this awareness). Elections are won and lost over the issue as evident from the results of the last few elections (including both General and Assembly) conducted in the country. There is no denying that most contemporary Bollywood films have more to do with style than substance. And while ‘Gabbar is Back’ is no different in this regard, it nonetheless does succeed in its attempt to inspire the common man to stand against the menace of corruption. In addition to highlighting the corruption of the government machinery, the movie also exposes the various  corrupt practices prevalent in private hospital across India.

Akshay Kumar in Gabbar is Back, climbing on the top of the bus, Directed by Krish
A Still from Gabbar is Back
In our endeavor to examine the movie further, let’s try and find the answer to a particularly relevant question. Who is Gabbar? A construction mogul in the movie likes to think of himself as a brand. “I am an even bigger brand,” retorts Gabbar. So, is Gabbar a brand? But, what is a brand? A symbol of trust that offshoots from an idea that is well endorsed! After all, a brand’s identity depends upon its ability to instill its customers with a sense of trust. In the absence of trust, the brand just cannot exist. Gabbar is like any other idea that needs to be endorsed. An idea, if endorsed by sufficient number of people, can give rise to a revolution. This brings us to an even more relevant question. What is Gabbar? Gabbar is the essence of the very idea that drives the human thought. Gabbar is the manifestation of the power of the common man. Gabbar is a revolution!

Chitrangada Singh performs an item number in Gabbar is Back, Kundi Mat Khadka, Directed by Krish
Chitrangada Singh performs an item number in Gabbar is Back
Overall, Gabbar is Back offers a nice blend of action, drama and suspense in equal parts. The relevance of its socio-political commentary cannot be overemphasized. But, barring a few high points, the movie can best be described as average. There’s a lot of drivel on offer which is bound to annoy the serious viewers. Like most Akshay Kumar films, Gabbar is Back is a one-man-show and is marred by its weak supporting characters, predictable plot twists, weak romance quotient (although, Shruti Haasan looks bubbly and vivacious in her post-surgery avatar, thereby serving the purpose of an eye candy quite well), and over-the-top action sequences à la Singham. However, Akshay's intensity and timing are impeccable (his rugged persona is well enhanced by his bearded countenance). The ‘Khiladi’ Kumar still knows how to score his points and certainly proves why he is the most diverse of the quintet of Indian superstars (Akshay ought to do more films like this one as oppose to meaningless entertainers like Rowdy Rathore). The rest of the cast puts up a decent show (given the limited exposure) with a special mention of Suman Talwar for his menacing portrayal of the construction  mogul Digvijay Patil. Gabbar is Back, as a potent film against corruption, reminded this critic of the brilliant but underrated Main Azaad Hoon (1989), starring Amitabh Bachchan, and Hindustani (1996), starring Kamal Haasan. While Gabbar is Back is rife with theatrically orchestrated chaos and carnage, there is a brilliantly devised adduction sequence with hundreds of masked men that’s a real treat to watch. Despite the flaws and gimmicks, ‘Gabbar is Back’ simultaneously entertains and makes us think. Recommended!

Readers, please feel free to share your views/opinions in the comment box below. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!  

(This review was first published at ProdNote.COM)

References:

1). IMDb


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12 comments:

  1. Loved it... U have written in detail... I wrote a quick review due to lack of time...

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  2. Thanks for those kind words, Binduji... it usually takes me half a day to finalize a review! :-)

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  3. The original,Ramanaa was mind blowing,even the Telugu remake TAGORE was also so gripping and so intense you bet you would hate this GABBAR totally.

    Gabbar is Back is half baked....disappointing movie
    :(

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  4. I certainly would love to watch Ramanaa and Tagore but I am my own reasons to like Gabbar is Back (I have talked about it at length in my review) and I don't think that watching the original can change my liking for this Hindi remake. Whenever we watch remakes after having watched the original first, we approach the remake with certain preconceived notions... and invariably we are disappointed by the remake that unless the remake is twice as good as the original... I have experienced it personally with Hollywood remakes of European/Japanese/Korean films. Btw, I must thank you for sharing your valuable thoughts! :-)

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  5. I have always ended up watching the originals and thus a remake with top bollywood actors would mean a miss :/ But for Ramanaa , I am glad i missed watching the original and I am definitely going to watch Gabbar is back :D Thank you for the review :)

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  6. Thanks for sharing your views... I look forward to your thoughts on the movie!

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  7. Outstanding movie. Rating 11/10

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