Guns and Gulaabs, the latest sensation on Netflix, sweeps viewers away to the fictional town of Gulabganj, a place infamous for its opium fields. In this gripping crime drama, the government may control the opium production, but it’s the rival gangs led by Ganchi and Nabeed who truly hold the power. With a perfect blend of dark comedy, violence, intense rivalries, and a sprinkle of romance, this show is a rollercoaster ride from start to finish.
The heart of the story revolves around the fierce battle for dominance in the illegal opium trade. The stellar performances of the cast, especially Rajkummar Rao and Dulquer Salman, keep audiences hooked throughout the series. However, it is the lesser-known characters like Chandralekha, played by TJ Bhanu, and Jyotsna ‘Jo’, portrayed by Suhani Sethi, who inject a breath of fresh air into the otherwise intense narrative.
With a perfect blend of dark comedy, violence, intense rivalries, and a sprinkle of romance, this show is a rollercoaster ride from start to finish.
Rajkummar Rao shines as the central character, Tipu, who strives to distance himself from the violent life his father led. But a twist of fate forces him to take the lives of two men from a rival village, completely altering the course of his own life.
Dulquer Salman delivers a compelling performance as Arun Varma, a Narcotics Officer initially seen as an honest and dedicated officer. However, as the story unfolds, Arun’s troubled past catches up with him, causing him to lose his integrity for a significant part of the narrative. Recently posted in Gulaabganj with his wife, Madhu (played by Puja Gaur), and daughter Jyotsna, Arun’s journey is filled with unexpected turns.
In addition to these main characters, the story also follows three schoolboys – Gangaram, Nannu, and Ikhlaq – adding further layers of intrigue to the narrative.
Chandralekha, an English school teacher, becomes the object of Gangaram’s teenage crush. Tipu, on the other hand, has silently admired Chandralekha for years but has never had the courage to express his feelings. This dynamic creates an interesting contrast between the more mature and restrained Tipu and the dreamy and imaginative Gangaram. A poignant scene where Tipu engraves Chandralekha’s initials with a burning matchstick serves as a reminder of how assumptions and unspoken desires often shape our lives.
Another incident in the series reflects the harsh reality faced by many girls: when Jyotsna enters the classroom, her strength and fluency in English are seen as threats by some, leading to insults and crude drawings. This unfortunate situation sheds light on the challenges girls continue to face in society, making it relatable and thought-provoking. Despite the adversity, Jyotsna excels academically and becomes a top-performing student.
…a reminder of how assumptions and unspoken desires often shape our lives.
As the episodes progress, the male characters find themselves entangled in a fierce battle for control over opium production. Ganchi, the gang leader, falls into a coma after a fatal accident, leaving his son, Jugnu, to take up the mantle of leadership. Jugnu faces the daunting task of proving himself to his father and ensuring the completion of a promised opium consignment. His character is multi-dimensional, engaging in conversations with his father that challenge societal discrimination against daughters and confront misogynistic mindsets.
While Jugnu strives to be the son his father desires and battles against rivals and betrayal, he ultimately fails to seal the deal. In the closing moments of the last episode, Jugnu walks into the hospital, sporting long hair and a salwar kameez, radiating an air of newfound confidence and determination. A conversation between Jugnu and Ganchi hints at the father’s awareness of his son’s true identity but his refusal to acknowledge it, burdening him with expectations of masculinity. However, Jugnu refuses to be suppressed any longer. The powerful scene of him forcibly removing his father from the ventilator, suffocating him to death, may be a satisfying conclusion for many viewers, but perhaps the writer also intended to let Jugnu finally take charge.
[Jugnu]’s character is multi-dimensional, engaging in conversations with his father that challenge societal discrimination against daughters and confront misogynistic mindsets.
Guns and Gulaabs successfully transports audiences back to the 90s while incorporating modern sensibilities. The show tackles various issues, albeit not in an idealistic manner, and makes an effort to address them.
Oh, and let’s not forget about Atmaram! But that’s a discussion to be continued (hopefully) in the Season 2 review. Stay tuned.