White Guy Watches Bollywood

A random white guy engages with contemporary Indian cinema... one movie at a time

Sunny Deol

Hindi Movie Review: Gadar 2 smashes box office records while stoking controversy… but is the movie itself any good?

Ameesha Patel and Sunny Deol return in "Gadar 2," directed by Anil Sharma, here reviewed by White Guy Watches Bollywood.

Looking at the reception and box office trajectory of Gadar 2 in India, one can’t help but notice certain similarities with the summer’s surprise smash-hit in the U.S., Sound of Freedom. Both are films that more progressive, educated elites have rejected on political and artistic grounds. In the case of Gadar 2, detractors deem the movie Islamophobic, objectionably nationalistic, and shamelessly nostalgic for a brand of traditionalism that has gone out of vogue. This has especially been the case among the Indian diaspora in the West, where grosses and bookings have been comparatively moderate relative to the film’s domestic haul. In the case of Sound of Freedom, the movie has been labeled conspiratorial, fearmongering, and a distraction from the real causes of its harrowing subject, child trafficking. But as the global liberal media has gone to great lengths to discredit these films, both have become absolute sensations in terms of admissions. Gadar 2 is now the second-highest grossing Hindi film ever released in India, with an outside chance of unseating the top dog, this year’s Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathaan.

Of course, unlike Sound of Freedom, Gadar 2 is also a nostalgia play, coming 22 years after its blockbuster predecessor (the story itself is set 17 years later). One might be tempted to call it “long-awaited,” but there was little about the first film that suggested a sequel beyond its box office success. And unlike last year’s American megahit Top Gun: Maverick, this was not a follow-up that the lead actor had teased for years; on the contrary, Sunny Deol was a bit hesitant about reprising arguably his most iconic character, Tara Singh. But the new installment spares no opportunity to relive the glory of the first film. In fact, both of its major musical numbers – “Udd Jaa Kaale Kaava” and “Main Nikla Gaddi Leke” – are simply rearrangements of the songs from the original Gadar: Ek Prem Katha. We also spend an unusually long amount of time viewing clips recapping the first movie at the beginning of this one.

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