Opening this week

‘A Gentleman’ film review: Underwhelming, sluggish and risk-free

Raj & DK direct the action comedy starring Sidharth Malhotra and Jacqueline Fernandez.

A spiritual sequel to Bang Bang (2014), itself an official remake of Knight and Day (2010), A Gentleman gives us a double scoop of Sidharth Malhotra vanillaness.

The first is Gaurav, a boring, earnest, buttoned-down type who has reached the pinnacle of achievement in America: a house in Miami, a cavernous car and the possible companionship of a woman who channels the spirit of 1970s Bollywood heroines. Gaurav’s would-be girlfriend Kavya (Jacqueline Fernandez) likes speeding and pole dancing, and at least one skill comes handy when the time is right.

The other is Rishi (Malhotra again), an Indian undercover agent who executes several successful missions for the mysterious Colonel (Sunil Shetty) along with Yakoub (Darshan Kumar). Although Rishi is presented as the epitome of coolness, he matches Gaurav in his blandness. The movie has some fun teasing out the connections between these two gentlemen. Are they twins separated at birth? Lookalikes? Or are they the same person?

Play
A Gentleman (2017).

The actual identity confusion lies elsewhere. Directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, who currently go by the crisper title Raj & DK, bring their signature snark to a movie that also wants to fit into Bond-Bourne territory by way of True Lies. The directors and dialogue writer Sumit Batheja aim for a combination of punches and punchlines, giggles and bullets, running with the hares and hunting with the hounds. They send up formulaic elements while also slavishly reproducing them – always an untenable position, and certainly not one that can be maintained over 133 dragged-out minutes.

The agent who tries to break away and is hunted down by his former boss, the ditzy girlfriend who is the last to know, the dorky friend who embraces his violent side, the final mission to end it all, the meet-the-parents scene when bodies are strewn across the backyard – A Gentleman is unable to overcome its derivative cool and come up with new ways of reimagining the action comedy.

Some of the throwaway humour is on the nail, but many lines lunge for low-hanging fruit, such as the mirth that is supposed to follow the pronunciation of the name of Gaurav’s workmate, Dikshit (Hussain Dalal). Amit Mistry, a regular actor from Raj & DK’s movies, has a cameo as a Gujarati enforcer in Miami who will go down in movie history as the man who introduced the Gujarati concept baporia to the mainstream.

In trying to hardsell Malhotra’s all-rounder abilities, the movie ignores Jacqueline Fernandez’s potential as a Zeenat Aman reincarnation. Fernandez has more slinkiness than the whole movie put together, and she has fabulous chemistry with Malhotra, but she is as ornamental to the plot as was Aman in the Amitabh Bachchan movies.

Malhotra has nearly the whole story to himself, but he doesn’t yet have the acting range to master the art of underplaying. Several scenes demand that Gaurav’s visage crack to reveal life beneath it, but this surface is unbreakable. Since Malhotra isn’t the only one who is trying to be something he is not, his performance fits right in.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Do you really need to use that plastic straw?

The hazards of single-use plastic items, and what to use instead.

In June 2018, a distressed whale in Thailand made headlines around the world. After an autopsy it’s cause of death was determined to be more than 80 plastic bags it had ingested. The pictures caused great concern and brought into focus the urgency of the fight against single-use plastic. This term refers to use-and-throw plastic products that are designed for one-time use, such as takeaway spoons and forks, polythene bags styrofoam cups etc. In its report on single-use plastics, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has described how single-use plastics have a far-reaching impact in the environment.

Dense quantity of plastic litter means sights such as the distressed whale in Thailand aren’t uncommon. Plastic products have been found in the airways and stomachs of hundreds of marine and land species. Plastic bags, especially, confuse turtles who mistake them for jellyfish - their food. They can even exacerbate health crises, such as a malarial outbreak, by clogging sewers and creating ideal conditions for vector-borne diseases to thrive. In 1988, poor drainage made worse by plastic clogging contributed to the devastating Bangladesh floods in which two-thirds of the country was submerged.

Plastic litter can, moreover, cause physiological harm. Burning plastic waste for cooking fuel and in open air pits releases harmful gases in the air, contributing to poor air quality especially in poorer countries where these practices are common. But plastic needn’t even be burned to cause physiological harm. The toxic chemical additives in the manufacturing process of plastics remain in animal tissue, which is then consumed by humans. These highly toxic and carcinogenic substances (benzene, styrene etc.) can cause damage to nervous systems, lungs and reproductive organs.

The European Commission recently released a list of top 10 single-use plastic items that it plans to ban in the near future. These items are ubiquitous as trash across the world’s beaches, even the pristine, seemingly untouched ones. Some of them, such as styrofoam cups, take up to a 1,000 years to photodegrade (the breakdown of substances by exposure to UV and infrared rays from sunlight), disintegrating into microplastics, another health hazard.

More than 60 countries have introduced levies and bans to discourage the use of single-use plastics. Morocco and Rwanda have emerged as inspiring success stories of such policies. Rwanda, in fact, is now among the cleanest countries on Earth. In India, Maharashtra became the 18th state to effect a ban on disposable plastic items in March 2018. Now India plans to replicate the decision on a national level, aiming to eliminate single-use plastics entirely by 2022. While government efforts are important to encourage industries to redesign their production methods, individuals too can take steps to minimise their consumption, and littering, of single-use plastics. Most of these actions are low on effort, but can cause a significant reduction in plastic waste in the environment, if the return of Olive Ridley turtles to a Mumbai beach are anything to go by.

To know more about the single-use plastics problem, visit Planet or Plastic portal, National Geographic’s multi-year effort to raise awareness about the global plastic trash crisis. From microplastics in cosmetics to haunting art on plastic pollution, Planet or Plastic is a comprehensive resource on the problem. You can take the pledge to reduce your use of single-use plastics, here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic, and not by the Scroll editorial team.