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. 😀 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. 😀
: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. He 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 ‘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, 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 ‘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 ‘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. 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. 😛
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)