Guns & Gulaabs Review | Despite the Initial Sluggishness, Raj and DK Manage to Land Their Black Comedy Smoothly

Unlike the other creations of Raj & DK, their first collaboration with Netflix, Guns & Gulaabs, takes way too much time to enter that space which you generally associate with their creations. For almost the first 4 episodes of the series, my expectations about the series were going down as the narrative felt very disjoint in handling the multiple tracks in the screenplay. But from around the fifth episode, the series gets that enthusiastic momentum, and strangely enough, the lengthiest finale episode was the most fun part of the whole series.

Set against the backdrop of Gulabgunj, the story is happening in the pre-mobile phone era. Gulabganj is known for its opium business and has two gangs, one led by Ganchi and the other by Nabeed. Nabeed was Ganchi’s main man until Ganchi favored his son Jugnu as his successor. With some biggies from Bengal offering Ganchi an enormous amount for the biggest opium deal, the gang tension increases. In the middle of this drama, a new narcotics officer named Arjun Varma arrives. The drama that unfolds around this big opium deal is what we see in Guns & Gulaabs.

In series like Family Man and Farzi, Raj and DK used to create characters and move their tracks forward in parallel tracks. You rarely feel like you have forgotten about a particular character or subplot. The tempo of the initial episodes of Guns & Gulaabs is extremely slow, and the only identifiable Raj and DK thing is the dark humor. Even though I still feel it could have been a lot peppier, the finale is getting an advantage as we, as an audience, have in-depth knowledge about most of the characters. And also, by the time it reaches the end, there is that Priyadarshan comedy-like linking between all the crucial characters with the signature style of Raj and DK.

Even though the writing pattern sporadically has giggle-worthy quirks, it feels a lot sober and emotional in the initial areas. Rajkummar Rao’s Tipu is given this image of a Romeo who doesn’t want to follow the path of his gangster father. Then we have the adolescence of the two boys, Gangaram and Lalkrishna. While these two tracks are funnier, the others have a very serious tone. Officer Arjun’s tale has a hefty back story that restricts him from being the officer he wants to be. The arc of that character actually shapes the series as a thriller. The character of Jugnu Ganchi is actually an atypical Raj and DK character. I liked how they shaped that character towards the end of this story, which is set in the ’90s.

The titles had that vintage Hindi cinema tribute feel, and even the color palette they have followed in the whole series is reminiscent of that. Whenever the conversations are happening about a smart deal between two parties, the framing has this very symmetric Wes Anderson touch. I liked how they made the final episode look extremely compelling using those “30 minutes ago” and “5 hours ago” type mini flashbacks.

We have seen Rajkummar Rao in a similar zone in movies like Stree, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Ludo, etc. But he still manages to make Paana Tipu that likable idiot. His ability to find that minimal yet eccentric pitch for these types of characters makes the performance fun yet never over the top. Dulquer Salmaan’s Arjun has less business in dealing with humor as he plays an emotionally conflicted guy on a mission to protect his family. My only issue was that it was difficult to believe he was playing father to a teenage girl. I think Adarsh Gourav was given the most challenging role in the whole series as Chottu. The way he balances the menacing attitude and the sexuality of the character through body language and dialogue rendering was top-notch.

Gulshan Devaiah, the go-to guy for whacky stuff, is hilarious and intimidating as Atmaram. In Devaiah’s hands, this killer character looked fabulous. TJ Bhanu as Chandralekha was memorable. Tanishq Chaudhary as Gangu was hilarious with all his small-minded big dreams. Late Satish Kaushik as Ganchi was a perfect choice for the character. The elaborate cast of the series includes names like Vipin Sharma, Pooja Gor, Shreya Dhanwanthary, Varun Badola, Manuj Sharma, Krish Rao, Jogi Mallang, etc., in major roles.

The narrative pace and the dosage of dark humor are comparatively on the minimal side in Guns & Gulaabs, and in that sense, I would say that the trailer of the series is a bit misleading. But if you can sit through that debatable treatment flaw, the story’s final act will give you enjoyable original content with a set of memorable characters.

Final Thoughts

From around the fifth episode, the series gets that enthusiastic momentum, and strangely enough, the lengthiest finale episode was the most fun part of the whole series.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.