Quick, muddled review: Gulaal

Quicker review: *********! ***** *****! ****! ****! ****! (Insert your favourite cuss-word, four letters or otherwise, to appreciate the movie, and…) Go watch it!!!

[As usual, there is no movie synopsis below, just my thoughts. And I’ve tried to avoid spoilers. But. Watch the movie instead.]

“A patriot must be ready to defend his country from its Government.” This piece of rhetoric aptly describes the obsessed megalomaniac played by Kay Kay Menon. Admittedly, it also introduces the movie in quite a faadu beginning, which grabs you by the eyeballs, and refuses to let go.

“Jiska zindagi mein kuch nahi hota, who yahaan Law padne aa jaata hai.” Similarly introduces the abject loser that is Raja Chaudhary’s character. (I don’t think this is the exact dialogue, but it is close enough! 🙂 )

Each character, from the separatist senapati and his sidekick, to the dorky protagonist and his royal-blooded-who-gives-a-s***-s****-you-dad friend, the humiliated teacher, the illegitimate siblings, the Tabu-obsessed parlourwaali-mujrawaali, to even the lyrically insane royal start off really strong. Each such character, in turn, is played superbly by Kay Kay Menon, Raja Chaudhary, Abhimanyu Singh, Mahie Gill, Ayesha Mohan, Jesse Randhawa, Piyush Mishra, Deepak Dobriyal and Aditya Srivastav. (The actors mentioned, of course, are not in any particular order; not even in relation to the preceding sentence. Heh!). They develop, some lightening quick, some slow-cooked, into hugely engrossing fare. The movie, at times, becomes just an excuse to enjoy a particular ‘actor’s moment’.

The movie and the underlying story have lots of nuances, undercurrents and perspectives which the actors effortlessly portray on their faces (Gulaal, eh?). The clan mentality, the angst of betrayal in personal life as well as politics, lust, fear, greed, love, power, revolution (!), corruption, destruction, and death are so invisible, yet so naked, that they lend a few hundred layers of complexity to the movie. The movie, per se, is very well written, directed and shot (cinematograph-ed?). Anurag Kashyap is fast becoming a favourite, with Dev.D and Gulaal (I think he made a special appearance in this movie, but I’m not sure.). And it’s not even April yet! I’ve heard rumours of Paanch releasing (finally!!) sometime in the next two months, and I’m super-excited!

The music is outstanding. Piyush Mishra has used the local flavour to craft a genuinely delectable score. And the lyrics are, well, lyrical. If you have a taste for such fine music, please, please buy the CD!

Now, the problems:

  • Unlike in Dev.D (I really must watch it one more time!), the women in the movie, after starting out real strong, simply fade away. Forget Jesse Randhawa and Mahie Gill, even Ayesha Mohan, who is pivotal to the story, simply evaporates for no fault of hers.
  • The film tries to make a statement about the idea of India, divisive movements, college politics….but at heart it is a story, a chain of events, and ends up as just that. It’s not Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, not by a stretch.
  • The second half of the film begins to tear around the edges and the movie becomes more and more ragged. In fact, in the last few minutes, you may be tempted to walk out. (Don’t! Listen to the song(s)!!)
  • The climax. Well, it’s ok. Not very good. So, it joins Slumdog Millionaire, Dev.D and Delhi-6 (from what I’ve heard), where the climax is not as good as the movie! (Or, is it just me?)

    In conclusion, the movie can give you quite a kick if you dip in, but if you don’t, it will give you the unpleasant feeling of having wasted your time and money. My call: It’s not Anurag Kashyap’s best (Haven’t watched Black Friday yet, and am still trying to get a grip on No Smoking.), but it is a must-watch.

PS: I thought I wrote bad reviews, but you should see the Gulaal reviews in the papers. Yuck!

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