Director – Vikram Kumar
Cast – Nani, Lakshmi, Priyanka Arul Mohan, Saranya Ponvannan, Karthikeya Gummakonda
Vikram Kumar’s Gang Leader, which stars Nani in the lead as a crime novelist, is a revenge comedy that works both as a satire on the genre and as an emotional drama centered around a group of bereaved women who set out to avenge the death of their loved ones. Despite a predictable screenplay, what really makes Gang Leader tick is its casting and overall treatment, which makes the comedy more effective than the revenge angle. Vikram Kumar impresses with some smart twists, especially in the way he reveals crucial details towards the end.
Watch the Gang Leader trailer her
Nani plays crime novelist ‘Pencil’ Parthasarthy, who has so far written 28 novels by plagiarising popular English movies. He gets to write something original for the first time when four women and a young girl come to him seeking his help to avenge the death of their family members. They approach him because he’s authored several revenge stories. They wish to seek his help and borrow ideas from him for their revenge. After listening to their story, he ends up leading them in the mission.
As a revenge story, Gang Leader impresses with some smart writing and twists that are complemented by the lead performances, especially by veteran actor Lakshmi, who shines in yet another memorable role after Oh Baby!. Vikram Kumar, who is also the film’s writer, plays into Nani’s strengths as a comedian. Even the most predictable scenes are owned by Nani with his impeccable coming timing and screen presence. The women do a great job as well, and newcomer Priyanka Arul Mohan is a revelation. It’s really nice of Nani to not let his ego and stardom come in the way of sharing screen space with so many supporting characters in almost every frame. He even lets them steal the thunder in a few scenes, which doesn’t dilute the impact of his character.
It’s in the second half that Gang Leader dips a little, when it tries to sanitise the crime angle with an emotional sub-plot that doesn’t quite work. If it’s intended to appeal to Nani’s family audience fanbase, it may work to some extent. Another major problem with the film is a ‘comic’ stretch involving a homosexual character and it only goes to reveal the filmmaker’s insensitivity towards the subject.
Vennela Kishore plays Santoor Senakayala, the head of security of a bank. Nani’s character approaches him to access the bank’s CCTV footage in connection with the bank robbery and when he realises Santoor is hitting on him. Santoor goes on to touch his hand and promises to stay in touch if he can help him. By trying to generate sick humour out of somebody’s sexual orientation, Vikram Kumar makes the whole scene nothing short of cringeworthy.
Gang Leader is predictable in parts but it doesn’t make it any less entertaining. If only it was slightly shorter and was devoid of cheap homosexual jokes, it would’ve been a better entertainer.