Unapologetic, cares two hoots about everyone including the censors…if it thinks his films can’t do without an ‘A’ then be it...Here is one man who would not stoop low to please the producers or censors or moral brigade even if it takes five years to get his films released. That you call the power of conviction and that precisely is the reason why you have to have an opinion on his films and that too a strong one: unbearable or excellent, most of the time.
Gulaal, Anurag Kashyap’s latest outing in an election year is bound to create ripples for all the right reasons. The opening scene sets the tone for the story: Rajputana is to be freed as the Indian Govt has not only snatched the Princes’ privy purses but also failed to deliver on promises. Dukey Bana(Kay Kay) is the chosen man for the job. From the bigger picture to the not so bigger: student politics. A seedha-sada boy, Dileep(Raja Singh Chaudhary) who comes to study in Rajpur is sucked into politics after being stripped and ragged. He gets a crash-course in duniyadari from his room-mate, Rananjay Singh Ransa (Abhimanyu Singh) who is the angst ridden son of an erstwhile king. Dukey Bana is the uncrowned king of the town. He convinces Ransa to contest university election who finds his own illegitimate sister, Kiran (Ayesha Mohan) against him. He is killed by Karan ( Aditya Srivastava), his illegitimate brother who has some big plans for himself and his sister. Dileep is made to replace Ransa and win a rigged election by Dukey Bana. And from here starts Dileep’s journey downhill. He is seduced by Kiran to her advantage. She becomes the General Secy. of the union who later goes on to seduce Dukey Bana coz her brother, Karan wants to replace him as the senapati of the free Rajputana movement. The dirty game of politics becomes a bit heavy for Dileep who is already dejected by Kiran’s betrayal.
Gulaal has some bloody red (passionate) performances. Kay Kay as Dukey Bana steals the show whichever frame he stands in. Abhimanyu Singh gives an in-your-face performance who by the way, is also given some of the finest dialogues that he delivers with panache. Dileep’s character leaves a little more to be desired though he leaves an impact and is certainly a lambi race ka ghoda. Aditya as the restrained rogue is awesome. Mahie Gill in a loud cameo is lovable. Ayesha Mohan is the find of the film. Ah, this gives me immense pleasure- yes, Deepak Dobriyal as the right hand man of Dukey Bana and Piyush Mishra, the lost-in-his-own-world brother of Dukey Bana. One, who speaks also when he is silent and the other who utters gibberish and makes sense. Jesse Randhawa doesn’t get much scope in her ill drawn character of a ragged teacher.
If the first half gives you no time to look who is sitting next to you, the second half is a little sluggish. The film handles too many issues at one go- student politics, ragging, separatist state movements (you will be clearly reminded of Raj Thackeray in one scene where Dileep tells Dukey Bana that Rajputana is not for the Rajuputs alone) illegitimate children of the royals and hunger for power. Kudos to Piyush Mishra for Gulaal’s music and lyrics which give the film its authenticity, force, appeal and help take the narrative forward. The film not only has the best of lyrics but also the acidic dialogues (lend an ear!) And hey, like all his films, Gulaal too is high on metaphors. Just do yourself a favor- try to find as many as you can. A little observation and attention in the scenes and I promise you a smile on your face, enriching your movie watching experience. BTW, the first time Kiran meets Dileep asking for favors, the background wall screams of a lager beer ad- Democracy Lager- for strong people! ! !
Don’t go for this film if you are looking for some light entertainment. It won’t give you any. It hits you hard… hard in your face, tough on your heart, thought provoking for your brain. Watch it for some original brainwash !
(Prabuddha is a tv journalist by profession and a cinema lover by default)