Finding humour in the exasperations of everyday life, the poetry of Hindi profanity, a mega plot filled with idiosyncratic characters, satire parading as realism, old-school conflicts disguised as modern crises, dysfunctional cops, a terrific pan-Indian cast.
Guns & Gulaabs unfolds in a fictional town called Gulaabganj. Everyone in it wants to be the star of their own story. A modest mechanic named Tipu (Rajkummar Rao) believes he is nothing like his late gangster dad, but struggles to escape his shadow.
But a lot of the pop culture is internalized by the setting. For one, the absence of technology allows the plot to be far more flexible and busy. Letters matter, meetings become crucial, cars reach their destinations with a screech, and impulses take over.
What distinguishes Guns & Gulaabs from other nostalgia dashes is its ability to poke holes in the genre. It’s like watching the real world defy the neat binaries of art. Every vintage trope is humanized a little, as if fiction were constantly colliding with life.
That’s not to say Guns & Gulaabs masters this tone. It’s a tough sell, especially in the last few episodes, when the writing goes too far to dismantle the tropes. Many scenes bristle with narrative tension. The climax is quite a slog.