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Gentleman March 11, 2007

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Tamil, Telugu.
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The tagline of this film said…Something Special. And indeed there was a lot special about it. I clearly recall that during its release hardly anybody knew what the film was about. A few days after its release the “Chiku Buku Raile” song filmed on Prabhu Deva became a rage in South India and it was then that this movie caught on and went on to become a blockbuster.

More importantly it marked the debut of director Shankar who I’d loosely label as “Michael Bay with a conscience”. Shankar has always followed a pattern (until his last release) of making films with a social message alternating with a regular love story. Though he has received success on both fronts it is really the former kind of films that people adore him for. In this list, the themes of all his films are pretty much on the same lines….a vigilante who fights rampant corruption in the society and government; but still the screenplay of each of his films stands out and it becomes really tough to compare one film of his with another – all you can do is to classify them in the same genre.

In Gentleman, the protagonist (Arjun) leads two lives…one as the owner of an appadam business and the other as a high profile robber who always manages to give the slip to the police. One such police officer (Charan Raj) vows to nab him and circumstances bring both these characters closer to each other. Meanwhile, one also gets to know the reason for these robberies and where the booty goes. The USPs of this film at that time were the grandiose action sequences and production values which were quite unusual for a South Indian film. Also, this was A.R. Rahman’s first major film soundtrack after Roja and he comes up with a blockbuster score which really elevates the movie. One more interesting thing to note is the unconventional climax – again a feature you’d notice in Shankar’s other films as well.

Arjun plays the lead role with panache and he carries off the action sequences beautifully. The lowpoint of course is the juvenile comedy and some vulgarity which you’d probably find in most of Shankar’s movies. I must agree that he has shown some slight improvement in this department for his more recent ventures. What I like about Shankar is the way he can make a gripping socially relevant thriller while at the same time obeying every diktat of commercial cinema. I still consider this one to be his best effort till date. Though I do like his other movies too they do tend to go over the top at times. If you want to see how a meaningful commercial potboiler should actually be…then look no further.
                                                                                                                                                Tailpiece: Mahesh Bhatt remade this movie in Hindi as “The Gentleman” with Chiranjeevi. Well, it’s as bad a remake can get. You could actually see that some action footage was directly used from the original. For a moment, if you ignored the lip sync you wouldn’t be able to make out if were a dubbed film or a remake. Icing on the cake – Anu Malik credits himself for all the tunes which were directly used from the original. If you don’t understand Telugu/Tamil then please check out the original with subtitles but don’t venture near this pathetic remake.

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