The beleaguered Hindi movie industry labours under the mistaken notion that every Tamil or Telugu hit can be remade successfully since filmmakers from the South have found the box-office Holy Grail.

Magizh Thirumeni’s Tamil-language Thadam (2019) has been adapted by him and Aseem Arora into Hindi as Gumraah (with a few changes). First-time director Vardhan Ketkar not only replicates unimaginatively but also makes no effort to add any flourishes of his own. A fairly interesting idea, taken from real-life cases about perpetrators getting away due to cleverly manufactured evidence, gets an elementary show-tell-show treatment.

On a dark and stormy night, a man in a yellow raincoat murders a techie in a Delhi bungalow. There are no clues left on the scene for investigating officer Shivani (Mrunal Thakur), who is battling not-so-subtle sexism from her male peers. Shivani gets a lucky break: the killer’s face caught on a neighbour’s selfie.

The killer is identified by Shivani’s boss Yadav (Ronit Roy). However, the arrested man Arjun (Aditya Roy Kapur) loudly declares his innocence. But his alibi does not quite hold up, and the cops are warming up for some third degree when a drunk and disorderly lookalike, Sooraj, is brought in.
The cops are left scratching their heads –which one is the perp? Arjun is a well-off engineer, Sooraj is a petty crook. There is immediate profiling here, though neither seems to have motive for the murder of a stranger.

The intriguing plot needed much better writing, tighter pacing and fewer diversions. If Arjun has a girlfriend (Vedika Pinto), then the script lays out a boring romance. Sooraj has conned some gangster, so one has to watch that track with the usual overweight comic friend Chaddi (Deepak Kalra) in attendance. To top it all is the painful childhood flashback.

Well-known faces are surrounded by a cast of amateurish actors who do not help the film at all. This is the kind of role Ronit Roy could have done in his sleep. Mrunal Thakur mistakes deadpan for the best way to portray a cop’s efficiency. Aditya Roy Kapur’s choice of films is mostly iffy. He is pleasant enough as Arjun, but playing the streetwise Sooraj is tough on him.

There are four composers and not a hummable tune. Gumraah is one of those films made with more optimism than proficiency – a blunt thriller that needed sharpening.

Gumraah (2023).