Guns And Gulaabs Review: Raj & DK Redefine The Small-Town Crime Thriller


Raj & DK are two of Bollywood’s most innovative storytellers. The writing/directing duo has given us many memorable movies and shows already. But now they bring their talents to Netflix with the immensely enjoyable Guns And Gulaabs. Raj & DK’s small-town crime thriller homages 70’s Bollywood in the best way, as I’ll discuss further in this Guns And Gulaabs review. Read on to find out why you need to watch this amazing new Netflix series.

This Guns And Gulaabs Review Is Completely Spoiler-Free

Guns And Gulaabs review crew
Image via Netflix.

Guns And Gulaabs is a story about the delicate balance of crime within the small towns of Gulaabganj and Sherpur. A rivalry between two warring mob factions kind of dominates everything in both these towns. Namely, the opium business. Both towns are allowed to grow opium for medicines, however, the criminal element skims a lot more to sustain a successful drug enterprise. The Gulaabganj faction is led by Ganchi (Satish Kaushik) who is about to make the biggest opium deal of his life. However, the demand for this much opium begins to create fractures within this balance. Add some other colourful characters and you have an awesome crime thriller with surprising amounts of humour and brutality.

Ganchi’s right-hand man is Babu Tiger, whose brutal murder at the hands of a mysterious hitman kickstarts the events of this series. Tiger’s son Tipu (Rajkummar Rao) is a mild-mannered mechanic who never wanted to follow in his father’s gangster footsteps. On top of losing his biggest ally, Ganchi also has to deal with the entry of a new Narcotics Officer in his region, the righteous and morally untouchable Arjun (Dulquer Salmaan). All the while trying to get his son, Chotu (Adarsh Gourav) become a more capable heir to his criminal empire. The Guns And Gulaabs review focuses on how the stories of these three characters makes for the most amazing drama series.

Why Guns And Gulaabs Works

Guns And Gulaabs review Salmaan.
Image via Netflix.

While the Guns And Gulaabs concept doesn’t feel fresh at first glance, there is so much to love about this show. Audiences may scoff at yet another small-town crime drama like Mirzapur, Sacred Games, Aranyak and so on— but Guns And Gulaabs stands apart from everything that came before it. Firstly, the tone of the show is very much like the 70’s masala movies that Bollywood was founded on. It’s blaring music with small-town vibes and musical stinger cues after dramatic moments that really help invest the audience in the story. Not to mention makes watching this series a lot of fun.

But the show is so much more than that. On top of the layered story of multiple characters with their own agendas, there is so much heart and humour here as well. Along with this unique blend of action, comedy and drama executed with typical Raj & DK flair. While everything about Guns And Gulaabs is exceptional, it’s really the creators’ own brand of storytelling that sets the show apart.

How Raj & DK Redefine A Much-Used Genre Of Indian Streaming Shows

Image via Netflix.

Raj & DK have this ability to subvert existing genres or concepts that we’ve seen many times and present them in a uniquely interesting way that is just delightful. Go Goa Gone brought the zombie action movie to Indian audiences in an amazing way. A Gentleman was a straight-up action comedy that honoured both those genres in a way that really enhanced the genre within Bollywood. And then they did it again with The Family Man series. They’ve proven their ability to put a new spin and almost reinvent ideas and concepts the audience may have seen before. But what they do with Guns And Gulaabs is so much more interesting.

With the rise of streaming, the Indian industry has seen a lot of success with series that focus on small-town dramas with a particular crime thriller setting. The aforementioned Mirzapur and Sacred Games may be the biggest examples, but the streaming landscape is littered with many amazing shows within this genre. But Raj & DK create something entirely new with Guns And Gulaabs that speaks to multiple sensibilities and is very accessible to all kinds of audiences.

Guns And Gulaabs Review Discusses The Performances

Guns And Gulaabs review Adarsh
Image via Netflix.

The performances within Guns And Gulaabs are incredible. Rao’s arc of Tipu as a mumbling and meek mechanic who ends up having to fight against his destiny as his father’s son is absolutely incredible to watch unfold. Rao is already a hugely accomplished actor, but he is able to put away all that ‘star power’ to make us believe Tipu’s actions and motivations every step of the way. Never does Tipu feel like he’s doing too much or too little, and the hero journey he goes through is outstanding!

Acting as a counterpoint to Tipu is Salmaan’s Arjun. Arjun begins the show as the traditional archetype of the Bollywood hero cop who walks into a small town and is adamant about his plans to clean it up. The thorn on the side of his enemies and a loving family man, Arjun is the straight-laced cop that Bollywood audiences have come to know and love. But as I keep mentioning in this Guns And Gulaabs review, creators Raj & DK are always able to take things into unexpected avenues of storytelling.

Surprisingly, rounding out this main lead cast is Adarsh’s Chottu. While Adarsh acts as a supporting character for the most part, his rise to prominence is the most dramatic in the series. And also the one that begs for a second season. Adarsh proves that he is here to stay with a powerful performance as a boy living in his father’s shadow and screwing up every step of the way. Until he doesn’t. And it’s a chilling turn.

Another Excellent Series That Is Worth The Watch

Guns And Gulaabs review Devaiah
Image via Netflix.

Guns And Gulaabs is populated by other outstanding performances from icons like Vipin Sharma as Ganchi’s loyal lieutenant. As good as Kaushik is in his comedy roles, his villainous turns are even more fun to watch. And he doesn’t disappoint here. Twins Goutam and Gaurav Sharma shine here as Tipu’s besties who support him, no matter what. With hilarious results. T.J. Bhanu is a standout as Tipu’s love interest. And then there’s the devastating mystery villain of Atmaram, played by the always amazing Gulshan Devaiah. Deviaiah eats up every role he plays and he looks like he’s having the greatest time of his life as this deadly assassin for hire who engages in a devastating cat-and-mouse game with Tipu.

Guns And Gulaabs is one of the best streaming shows out there right now. It’s a treat for fans of classic Bollywood cinema, unexpectedly hilarious comedy and some very compelling storytelling. The cast is impeccable and the writing of the show matches it at every step. Guns and Gulaabs is quite possibly one of the best series of the year.

Guns And Gulaabs is now streaming on Netflix.

What did you think of this brand-new streaming show? Let me know in the comments below, or reach out to me on Twitter (X) at @theshahshahid to discuss all things Bollywood.

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Guns And Gulaabs Review: Raj & DK Redefine The Small-Town Crime Thriller
  • Acting - 10/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 8.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 9/10
  • Setting/Theme - 7.5/10
  • Watchability - 10/10
  • Rewatchability - 8/10
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