As many of my readers have probably noticed, I have a strange affinity for bad films. Sure, I also enjoy foreign, independent and classic Hollywood films--but sometimes I enjoy a film so awesomely bad that it makes me laugh. Because of this, I periodically peruse IMDb's infamous Bottom 100 List to see which films are the lowest rated films of all time. And, aside from a few foreign language pictures which aren't available in the US, I have done a pretty good job of finding and watching these turkeys. A few of these incredibly low rated films are actually not that bad, though most are truly terrible--and many of also unintentionally funny--and these are my favorites. Birdemic, Prince of Space and Eegah are particularly funny examples from the list.
Imagine my surprise recently when I noticed something VERY unusual. A new film managed to not only make the list but vault all the way to #1. Coming from out of nowhere is the Indian film Gunday--a 2014 offering from director/writer Ali Abbas Zafar. And, considering my recent articles for Influx about my love for Indian movies as well as for bad films, I realized that this was a definite must-see. After all, if I praised Bollywood movies for their fun and originality, I have some obligation to mention the bad along with the good. So I wondered, since the movie is ranked as the worst film of all time on IMDb, is it really THAT bad?! Is the movie worse than Plan 9 From Outer Space or is it a case where folks are jumping all over a film that really isn't THAT bad (such is the case with Glitter or Gigli)?
When Gunday began, I could see that it was completely unlike most of the Bottom 100. Most of these films are ultra-cheap films with tiny budgets and few were ever considered prestige films. However, Gunday clearly is a big-budget Bollywood film--with all the trappings you'd expect from such a film. It has handsome actors, huge song and dance numbers and tons of style.
The story is about two orphans who grew up in war-torn Bangladesh, Bikram and Bala. The two are starving and so gravitating towards a life of crime is understandable--and this sort of plot is VERY common in Indian films. They are in some ways like Robin Hood--big-time mobsters who have a heart for the poor and are their benefactors. Because of this and their toughness, no one would ever consider testifying against them and they have become the top crime lords in Calcutta. However, a policeman (the exceptionally talented Irrfan Khan) has made it his job to take down these criminals. And, in addition, the partner's strong bromance is threatened by a pretty young lady who both of them have fallen for big time.
The first portion of the film which shows the pair as children is actually very good. It is a compelling story and you feel for them as kids. They face hunger, sexual abuse and many other obstacles and the audience naturally pulls for them--even though they do begin engaging in criminal activities in order to survive. A bit later, however, the film jumps way ahead in time. Now the pair (played by Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor) are grown up and are becoming the top criminals in the city. They also have become incredibly silly--with extremely well-coiffed hair, rakish good looks, shirts ALWAYS strategically unbuttoned and STYLE, STYLE, STYLE! In fact, they look much more like models in a Vidal Sassoon advertisement than mobsters! And, to make it worse, they act much like Sacha Baron Cohen in Brüno or Ben Stiller in Zooolander-- though these two American films were intended as comedies, not dramatic musicals like Gunday! It's a strange contrast to see their terrible performances alongside Irrfan Khan--who, as usual, is terrific. Now I am not saying that Singh and Kapoor will always be bad actors--but the sorts of performances the director elicited from them are absolutely terrible.
Does all this bad acting and nonsense rise to the level of awfulness that merits the film being on the Bottom 100 List? Not really. While the film is pretty dumb at times (mostly, I feel due to the direction and performances by Singh and Kapoor), the film does have a few things going for it. The songs are terrific and catchy. Zafar can direct music videos--just not people acting like real people. And, as I mentioned above, Irrfan Khan is excellent in his role and this Indian actor has been getting a lot of well deserved attention in breakout films like Slumdog Millionaire, The Lunchbox and Life of Pi. Plus, parts of the story are interesting (though historically inaccurate)-- though I must admit that the film certainly does become tiresome after a while.
So why is this poor but not terrible film rated #1 in the badness scale? I can only assume because it was so well publicized, marketed and designed to be a mega-blockbuster. Like the examples I gave above (Gigli and Glitter), this is a case where the public really LOVES getting on the bandwagon to trash a mega-film. But unlike these two films, Gunday actually made a ton of money...yet people hated it! Perhaps this makes this movie the one that Indians love to hate! All I know is that if Zafar can make more 'failures' like this one, he'll become an incredibly rich man!!
By the way, if you're curious and would like to see the list, it's available at http://www.imdb.com/chart/bottom?ref_=nv_sr_1
6 out of 6 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.