Movie Review: Gulaal


I decided to watch Gulal this weekend despite all my friends not wanting to watch it. They preferred 13B. 😦 My decision to forgo 13B was justified.

The movie plot is multi-layered. A murky world of student politics that is linked with an innocent boy Dileep’s love story. Anurag’s movie is an open satire on lawlessness rampant in small towns. Police is wimp, easily bought. Politics is rife with pointless bloodshed and personal ambitions. Cause itself is insignificant. Story though is set in Rajasthan, yet same could be translated to any other part of India. And then the love story that has all shades.

Storyline: Dileep is a Rajput who has arrived at University. He is ragged by some college goons. His unlikely companion is feisty, hot-headed and virile Ransa, who is son of a royal aristocrat whom he loathes. Ransa is roped in as election candidate by Rajput Senapati, Kay Kay (awesome performance) for his cause of making a Rajputana. Circumstances ensure that ill-equipped Dileep takes Ransa’s place as General Secretary in university elections. He wins, but can not save himself from the murk around. He is doomed in love.

Gulal has everything that can work for a good movie: A fast action story that is gripping enough. Outstanding performances from the entire cast. I can’t be snooty and pick on anyone for doing a bad job. Anurag does a good job of eliciting guffaws amidst even the dark parts of the story. Some of those scenes are very memorable to me. I was laughing quite loudly. πŸ˜€ And female characters are small yet striking, though they are only minnions in a man’s world.

Amurag has a rare mastery over the characters in his movie. He just weaves a story around his characters, makes you understand why they did what they did. But he refuses to offer any justification for their actions. This leaves the characters open to various interpretations by the audience. In DevD, I felt characters (Dev, Chanda and Paro) make their choices wilfully, while Quirky Indian disagreed. Several email conversations later, none of us agreed with other. We wisely called our discussion quits. QI, I had a great discussion, I must say. πŸ˜€

:Spoilers begin: Similarly, in Gulal, most people will identify with Dileep. Sure, Dileep IS innocent cuaght in big bad world. But Dileep’s character can also be interpreted as a loser who deserves audience pity. HeΒ  can’t recognise the true love that is staring right in his face (in form of Jesse); he would rather fall for the chick that assuages his libido and dumps him with equally straight-faced boldness. When Dileep finally dons the β€˜toughie’ act, I thought here he comes. But no, he behaves like an adolescent-mad man in denial, and goes on a killing rampage just to talk to the girl! How many times have you seen, in a Bolly movie,Β  female characters being dumped by men who are after them only for sex? Those women usually end up on railway track. But put a man in his place, he would turn a β€˜martyr’ as Dileep. Bravo, Anurag for hitting it right!

Anurag is master of ironies. My favourite hottie character dies paying for sins of a father he detests. Simpleton Dileep can easily see the madness behind Kay Kay’s fiery speeches and cause, but fails to see madness of his own actions. Kay Kay who understands what hit Dileep still can’t save himself from licking the same bait. A brother who is illegitimate son doesn’t hesitate to pimp his sister when it comes to β€˜regaining his honour’. :Spoilers end:

A note on performances: Raja Choudhary, also responsible for the story, was no lamb when it came to playing Dileep. Mahi Gill had special role, she provided most of comic relief and added to oomph. Aditya Srivastav gives a controlled performance. Kay Kay is fiery and nuanced as usual. Jesse was relegated to sidelines. 😦  Piyush Mishra adds the voice of conscience/wisdom through catchy lines with panache.Β  Ayesha Mohan as Kiran was impressive as sweet-faced seductress. Deepak Dobriyal as Bhaati was perhaps most noticed of the cast when ovie played. And last my favorite, Abhimanyu Singh as hottie and fool RanSa. πŸ˜›

This movie revolves completely around politics. So it may not appeal to everyone. As for nitpicking, I expected too much of Anurag Kashtyap in the second half. I expected him to come up with a masterstroke to squash the evil. Alas, the end was tame. Yet a great watch, nice movie.

Rating: 4/5 (Minus point for reducing Jesse’s character, plus for 2 queer, theatrical characters)

59 Responses to “Movie Review: Gulaal”

  1. 1 Anshul March 16, 2009 at 1:13 pm


    I assume that anyone who rates any movie 4 out of 5 these days has taken money from the movie makers.

  2. 3 Harsh March 16, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    I loved the role of Prithvi Bana very much … Plus the songs , especially the lyrics was awesome !!! …

    Still finding the theatre almost empty (just on the second day after release) was very surprising for me …

  3. 6 Chirag Chamoli March 16, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    I guess I am in the niche πŸ™‚ I loved the movies all of my fav actors are there and a nice, non bollywoody story.

  4. 10 sakhi March 16, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    I am not going to miss this one!! 4/5 is really something!! πŸ™‚

    P.S. i haven’t read the spoilers πŸ™‚

  5. 11 Poonam March 16, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Chalo, Anurah Kashyap can thank me for sending atleast one viewer to him lol I truly believe that movie deserves 4 but it will have a niche audience.

  6. 12 oorja March 16, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    i think i should watch it.
    not for 4/5 but because it seems like a good one..

  7. 13 Solilo March 16, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    This is on my list. I have been waiting for this one since the time I read a small preview a month back. It has some fabulous actors too.

    I didn’t read spoilers πŸ™‚

  8. 14 Quirky Indian March 16, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    I haven’t seen the film yet, but intend watching it in the next few days. Will tell you what I thought about it! πŸ™‚


    Quirky Indian

  9. 15 Nimmy March 16, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Will watch it and come back then to share my thoughts….Thanks for the review Poonam.

  10. 16 Nimmy March 16, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    I didn’t read spoliers πŸ˜‰

  11. 17 Poonam Sharma March 16, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    @Ooorja, Solilo, Nimmy, Quirky Indian: Sure let me know how you find the movie. GOod people you all are, dont read and write spoliers πŸ˜›

  12. 18 Vee March 16, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    A 4/5 is totally justifiable. It is a good cinema. Glad you mentioned the major factor that works apart form performances; which is the fast pace of the movie. Not for a moment it drags or goes in tangent. Here, I myself confess that when it came to direction, Gulaal is a bit higher than Dev D (though, overall, I prefer Dev D).

    Yes, men when duped turn insane and that’s what happens to Dileep. He was innocent and basically a fattoo but the happenings around him made him a toughie and Kiran dumping him was the final nail.

    The end was tame? Why you thought so? What else could have been?

    • 19 Poonam March 17, 2009 at 12:34 pm

      Yeah, I know you are biased to DevD. πŸ˜‰ As for Dileep, he never really became a toughie, just got mindlessly aggressive for sometime. Anyway, being dumped and dumping is pretty common these days no matter where people come from, thankfully, few people act like Dileep. But yes, few do.

      End was bit without zing. Perpetrators were known to all the characters (except of course Dileep) and also the audience, so the climax was somewhat predication and then you feel the whole bloodshed exercise was pointless. You know what I mean? I don’t want to reveal more as I don’t want to put many spoilers here.

  13. 20 Dev March 16, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Still haven’t seen the movie…but yes I m pretty sure that Mahi Gill was the thing to oomph and aaahh about. πŸ˜‰

  14. 22 dinu March 16, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    4/5 πŸ™‚ compelling ..

    KK is doing a good job these days …I remember few of his perfomances..

    The 4 rating is intentional and deserving. It is good but because it is niche movie, few people will watch it. So I must do my bit to be fair πŸ™‚

  15. 23 Reema March 16, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Fire your editor first. 2-3 typos πŸ˜›

    Have to watch this one.

  16. 24 Indyeah March 16, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    I have to see this one too..and nope didnt read spoilers πŸ˜€
    WHy did you write them πŸ˜€ to tempt us? :Pwll get back to you after watching it..though I am hopeless at reviewing them


    Hugs you back..Well actually I was writing my commentary on certain characters and direction techniques that could only be explained by few spoilers. Good girl, didn’t get tempted by them. πŸ™‚ Sure, do let me know what you think about it.

  17. 25 Smita March 16, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    I so much want to see this one but dunno when & how…hubby doesn’t want to watch this one…

    I have always liked KK πŸ™‚

    Take a girlfriend along, shopping ka lalach de dena koi bhi chali jayegi πŸ˜›

  18. 26 Nita March 16, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    I didn’t see this movie as people told me it’s not good! Well, I guess if it’s possible I will see it. I don’t like political movies though so I am not sure. But if it is a good story then I am sure I will like it. Nice detailed review although I didn’t read the spoilers!

    It is certainly set in politics, but it is more about human ambitions. Each person wants different things from life. Its about betrayal and lawlessness all around us. Do tell me what you think of it.

  19. 27 Ava March 16, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Poonam, Wow.. tht was good. I felt the movie was kinda lost in the end.. but it was sinister to see the- you know who – duo win in the end. Although no one is really ‘good’ here, but still you expected justice somehow, but that was denied us, maybe rightfully.

    I loved your analysis !

    Actually averting the predictable ending could have been a masterstroke. I hated it when Bhaati very easily lured into the trap, right when they were discussing to get him away. And you are right, no one barring Dileep was good, but Dileep was clearly inefficient, nimcompoop. πŸ˜€ Vee might hate me for saying this, he would rather shoot the girl.

  20. 28 vimmuuu March 16, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    I didnt read it. Going to watch this over the weekend. Will be back here πŸ˜€

    But you could have read the spoiler-free part! Okay, come back and tell me how you found it to be.

  21. 29 Chittaranjan March 16, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Good Review. It helps in deciding to give this one a skip and prolly catch it on Zee Cinema before long πŸ˜› Politics and Movies just don’t mix, IMHO.

    I don’t mean to sound nitpicky but the movie title has two A’s, blogpost title has one! πŸ™‚

    Achcha, ok, will edit the blogpost. Bus? πŸ˜› But you should watch it in theater, it keeps you hooked all the time even if you are not pleased in the end.

  22. 30 Indian Homemaker March 17, 2009 at 5:47 am

    Watching it soon … stopped reading it after I reached ‘Spoilers Begin’ πŸ™‚ Will be back here after watching the movie!

    Arre, but there was more after spoilers end tag. πŸ™‚ Good girl, doesnt read spoilers. Let me know how you find the movie. πŸ™‚

    • 31 Indian Homemaker March 18, 2009 at 10:12 pm

      LOL@ good girl and spoilers πŸ™‚

      Watched the movie, and then read your full review and realised there are somethings I had not even noticed … the irony for example – I liked your review for being na eye opener of sorts. I did think he was a loser and did notice Anurag Kashyap has again got two girls, the innocent one is condemned by the society just like in Dev D and the smart one has a chance to live a normal life… the movie is like a work of art and I liked it, but didn’t like the way it ended… but them how else could it possibly end?

      Loved the lyrics of the song Mahi Gill dances too .. loved all the brilliant lyrics πŸ™‚

      He he I am glad you agree with me that Dileep is loser. Yaye! thats one vote. (Vee, are you listening? :P) Movie is certainly like a work of art. As for my observations being an eye-opener to you, if you write a review, I would find something there that I had failed to notice. Some movies ARE very muti-layered, each one notices something new. πŸ™‚

      Yeah, lyrics were great. Everyday I tell myself I ahve search for complete lyrics but forget. I will do it today. THanks for coming by, IHM πŸ™‚

  23. 32 praneshachar March 17, 2009 at 5:54 am

    good morning looks to be really true account account of the movie that is my perception.If i get a chance let me watch. good review poonam keep reviewing.
    have a great day and week ahead

    Thanks! Do let me know what yuo think of the movie after you ahve watched it. πŸ™‚

  24. 33 Ava March 17, 2009 at 8:38 am

    btw I invite you to let it all hang out at

    Ava, that’s one mean and too personal tag. I don’t promise but I will think about it. πŸ˜‰

  25. 34 vedang March 17, 2009 at 11:28 am

    I’m a big fan of Anurag Kashyap. I’ve seen all his movies (other than Paanch, seeing as it never released). So, I went to see Gulaal with very high expectations. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think the movie is good. But didn’t you find it to be, well, _random_?? Half the cast in the movie is unnecessary (Jesse for example), and the movie just peters out in the second half!!

    As I left the theater, I felt a little let down.. 😦

    Hehe, that’s is most interesting reaction I have heard so far. You found the movie random? Why? Jesse’s track was reduced, I too felt bad about it. Aur kaun tha unnecessary. Piyush Mishra and the companion but they were meant to sound a voice of wisdom in crisp lyrics to Kay Kay. Yeah, second half was bit less dhansu. You are right about that, but nevertheless I was engaged. So how much would you rate this one?

  26. 35 Vee March 17, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    There are many Dileeps that exist, I might not be a Dileep but I cannot run down if someone is that. He is no ways a nincompoop. Outside he was that what he was inside. No hypocrisy. I would not shoot the girl either. She knew what she was doing. So, to herself she was right. But that doesn’t make Dileep a door-mat.

    • 36 Poonam March 17, 2009 at 9:16 pm

      Vee, true Dileep wasn’t a hypocrite. He was innocent. I have reiterated that umpteen times by now.

      But where is this written that gud people cannot be nincompoops. Dileep was in his choices. Nincompoop not to realize plainest possible thing that girl didn’t love him. She never feigned love, she always displayed her disgust for him. Later he was nincompoop not to accept that girl didn’t love him. Nincompoop not to recognize love when it was staring in his face. He actually told Kiran, mujhe who samajh nahi aati, just bcoz Jesse refused him into her bed. Nincoompoop to turn on his own people instead of accepting a betrayal or pain. We all have to go through pain and betrayals. That doesn’t give us right us right to be as reckless as him. He actually could have had new better life with Jesse. Its like defending all those guys who when spurned in love resort to throwing acid on girl’s faces. Only saving grace was he didnt kill Kiran.

      Kiran may have played with his emotions (using the hindi cliche), but Dileep, like a loser, destroyed several other lives. I am full of disgust for spineless guys. You picked on the wrong person to defend him. Sorry if that was harsh, Vee, but I think I have said enough if this doesn’t make my point nothing ever will.

  27. 37 Vee March 17, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    FINE. Wait for my review.

    • 38 Poonam March 18, 2009 at 12:48 pm

      I didn’t mean it as bad as it came out. Feel free to write here to your heart’s content. Always. Only I have nothing to add this time. Enough sentiments already invested in analysing a nincompoop. 8)

      Sure will read your review. Isi bahane review to likhega, you know kabhi-kabhi tere review mere bahut kaam aate hain πŸ˜›

  28. 39 whatsinaname March 17, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    hmmm hearing so many good words about this too. Anurag Kashyap seems to be a happening man and to think I havent seen a single movie by him! Shame on me πŸ™‚

    • 40 Poonam March 18, 2009 at 12:50 pm

      No frets. YOu ahve all the time in the world to catch up with Kashyap’s work. And he doesnt have such a large body of work yet that you can’t catch up. When you do watch Anurag’s movies, let us know what you think. πŸ™‚

  29. 41 Reema March 17, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    No reply to my comment?? 😦

  30. 43 Hemanth March 18, 2009 at 1:31 am

    @Poonam…You mention a very good point about Dileep Characters being hypocritical…he sees the flip side of Dukey’s characters but fails to see his own actions. The former character got very tiring towards the end…unnecessary footage for so long..and Raja Choudhary doesn’t evoke sympathy after a point!!

    Jesse should have got more footage and Ayesha does a brilliant job…esp in her scenes with Raja Choudhary! How many times have we seen a girl slap a guy like that in movies? Amazing that was!..:)

    Wonderful review…here’s my review on the movie…

    Yeah, it is often the case we are not able to see our own actions so clearly. And Ayesha was certainly kick-ass, even when he has his gun on her, she was unpreturbed. She would calmly, disdainfully tell him to put down his gun as if this was most natural thing in the world.

    I have read your review and commented as well. Thanks for coming by! πŸ™‚

  31. 44 Arpit March 18, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    looks like worth watching
    now dont tell me if its “A- rated ” πŸ˜›

    Sadly almost all Anurag Kashyap movies are ‘A’ . You will have to wait, I guess. πŸ˜›

  32. 45 Arpit March 18, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    off topic : poonam, can your friend make a header for me too (on special request) πŸ˜›
    i am bored with my current one and withering isnt getting time to make one
    by the way….this header is very different from the past ones(ah celebrating woman’s day arggghh….. month… whatever )
    nice one πŸ˜›

    Arpit, your request has been passed on to Sandeep. I should email you one by end of teh day. πŸ™‚ Your current one is good too. Celebrating woman’s day month was not intentional, it was all in Sandeep’s mind. He is glad to know you liked it. How are your exams going?

  33. 46 mystic margarita March 19, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Landed here from another blog. Great review – will surely watch it as soon as I can – I watched Dev D last week and loved it!

    If you liked DevD, you are also likely to enjoy Gulaal though in different genre. Btw, have you voted for MovieManiax Awards for 2008 movies, if not, please vote here:

    Also, please spread the word in your circle. The polls are on till first week of April. Thanks for coming by, dear lady! πŸ™‚

  34. 47 Arpit March 19, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    oh dont ask……..
    we are getting shocks(specially the commerce students)
    accounts paper was tough ( i wished to score 100….but bad luck)
    a question in my set was wrong 😦
    only maths is left now( just wish that they show some mercy)

    oh thanks ! by the end of the day……..great ! πŸ˜›
    and convey my thanks to sandeep πŸ˜› ( must say, he is really efficient in his work )

    Yeah, the worse thing CBSE can do is adding such questions. Best of luck for the Maths, never mind accounts for now.

    Sandeep was v happy to read your compliment, thanks πŸ™‚
    Update: He just pinged to sy he is too busy today, wl take some more time to do it.

  35. 48 China boy March 19, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Not very impressed. The story is too fast paced – the characters are not developed properly. Looks like the director has tried to put in too many things without playing on the nuances. The scene after the funeral of His Highness and Ransa – Ayesha Mohan is angry and is walking away from her brother – when she is hitting him – it looks play-full rather than anger! The Ramleela seems to go on forever – I thought it is staged only for two weeks (I may be wrong!). Kiran doesn’t want to be pregnant and she doesn’t use any protection – she wasn’t drunk or drugged – was she? If it was moment of passion – it wasn’t built up. The scene was never developed. Piyush Mishra’s lyrics and singing distracts – the street theatre style songs just don’t work as back ground track. Mahi Gill comes and then sleeps for almost half the movie. Jesse teaches and lives with a student – hmmmm – It’s all so confusing… I think Anurag Kashyap should leave this genre of movie making to Mr Bhardwaj!

    China Boy, I laughed at your observations. πŸ™‚ They are darn right about Kiran. But then maybe Anurag put it so as to depict that Dileep is a Loser falling for a girl who is clearly disdainful/malicious to him. And I had the same observation about Ramleela. Ditto in Dilli6. You are a pretty critical observer. πŸ™‚ As for Jesse, yes bachelor teachers do live in University hostel with students. Its common thing in small towns. And Mahi was in ‘special appearance’ πŸ˜› I disagree that Anurag should give up, for all its faults it was a good cinema.

  36. 49 Arpit March 19, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    oh i am in no hurry.
    ask him to take his own time πŸ˜›

    Ok, will tell him so. πŸ™‚

  37. 50 Abhi .. March 20, 2009 at 1:08 am

    nice movie …
    3.75 out of 5 …

    piyush mishra’s music was good ..
    his acting was excellent ..
    and his lyrics were awsome ..
    very thoughtfully penned down lyrics ..

    and in acting each character was superb ..
    very fast paced movie ..

    only minus could be that initially a lot of characters
    were threaded but finally didnt merged up fine ..
    director seemed to have lost control on over created
    characters …

    Anurag kashyap proves to be a director with great
    potential … his ‘angry’ genre of movies and their
    superb execution is worth compliment … He could
    surely make a movie of RDB calibre that would be a
    revolution rather than movie …

    Abhi, thank you for your fair and well-analysed comments here! Which character sis you think Anurag lost his control on like Jesse? Anyone else?

  38. 51 Maximusbanged March 21, 2009 at 3:34 am

    I agree with you, this is a good movie…

    Good to know that.. πŸ™‚

  39. 52 china boy March 21, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    I don’t get the idea of special appearances! How can a character in a story have a ‘special appearance?’ Would you accept an special appearance by a character in a novel? Anyway what do you make of Piyush Mishra’s songs as background tracks? All his songs were quiet political and out of place. They may sound nice if being performed by IPTA on a street but in this movie they overshadowed the emotions of the scenes. I guess I am a bit critical but when we want our movies to be at par with movies from around the world – why should we allow our directors any slack? I was very impressed by Dev D but as a follow up this movie lacked the way he worked on the nuances in Dev D.

    Well, every director has their own definition of special appearance, I wouldn’t get into that terrain lest it infringes the creative license πŸ˜› Piyush’s songs were political that is why they made sense, they were always in backdrop of Kay Kay’s political ambitions. Though you could say those two were theatrical characters, yet I liked thie use. I guess, to each his own. πŸ™‚ I did like the movie, as evident by my rare hight rating, 4. πŸ˜€

    • 53 Madhu April 25, 2009 at 11:23 am

      Piyush Mishra’s lyrics is politically loaded and pathbreaking to that extent in Hindi cinema… I’ve never heard such open political statements in a hindi movie song ! The soundtrack supplements the political tone of the movie and though a number like ‘Ranaji’ feels odd the first time, I think that it accentuates the theme of the movie.

      The entire soundtrack is refreshingly new and haunts you for a long time… I just loved the lyrics !!

  40. 54 Chirag Chamoli March 26, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Poonam did see this yesterday, I loved the movie, awesome, and again, IMHO, Gulaal has taken Indian cinema many notches I specially was impressed with the climax for once the truth,and not the BS we are used too.

    you were right, its a movies, liked only by a small pocket of people. Thanks for making me watch this, usually I just skip hindi movies.

    I am glad you liked it, Chirag! πŸ™‚ I expected more from climax because every character, except simpleton Dileep, knew who were troublemakers. Yet troublemakers triumph was bit too hard to digest for me.

    But yesterday I read few opinions in QI’s blog, they found it an average fare. I gave 4 rating with intention to encourage atleast niche people to watch this one. πŸ™‚

    Btw, what does IMHO stand for?

  41. 55 Chirag Chamoli March 31, 2009 at 9:45 am

    IMHO: In my humble opinion

    And, yes, first I was unhappy with the ending but then I over analyzed and found out this was the perfect ending to leave us with a bitter taste in our mouth.

  42. 56 forex tsd May 1, 2009 at 5:30 am

    Your right there are great opportunities but paying for one isn’t the best

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