This is the tepid time of year when movie goers wallow in the limbo of “one” or “two” star films; which, depending on your mood or the weather can suffice. “Gabbar is Back” is not as bad as it is pedantic; Arshay Kumar,”Gabbar” is an avenging crusader; his mission and “he chose to accept it” is to eliminate graft, corruption, moral turpitude thriving in Mumbai. He is a college professor who plies his students with the rudiments of survival; never in a classroom, but on the spot training: whipping, thrashing the nefarious; instructing scrawny neophytes in the triumphs of martial arts. He is adored and the force behind a grassroots movement to purify government, shifty police officials, conniving hospital employees; his methods of kidnapping and public hangings, massacre “due process” but more than satisfy the frenzied populace.
Cupid-lipped Shruti K. Haasan, a “Google” addict, plus totally unconvincing as a lawyer, should have been erased from director Kris’s scenario; Kareena Kapoor is superb as Gabbar’s deceased wife and the catalyst for his metamorphosis into a demonic vigilante; their song and dance number, “Teri Meri Kahaani” is scintillating, electrifying: through sensual, rainy, luscious landscapes, the pulsating chiaroscuro of Holi, effervesce of pregnancy, theirs is a love-match on the same celestial stratum as Parvati and Shiva.
Opening as the highest first day occupancy in 2015, “Gabbar is Back” will have its share of naysayers but beyond the repetitive, simplistic dialogue; heavy-handed, black and white “branded” characterization, there lies a deep and worthy message, one resonating in contemporary India, a democracy whose vicissitudes and warts are being exposed by those courageous, intrepid “Gabbars” unafraid of the untoward, using “pen, pulpit and pertinacity” to champion the just and eradicate the detritus poisoning their society.
TWO & 1/2 STARS!!