Brilliant composition of Conflict: Gulaal


The timely release of this movie around Holi (Festival of Colours in India celebrating the demise of demoness Holika in fire while the pious lad Prahalad escaped unscathed) one may be led to belive that this tale is centered on colour or festivity.

One will be truly mistaken for thinking so and the tagline Love..Power..Revolution carried in the movie posters will make sure you don’t make that mistake. 

Let me begin by saying I loved this movie and I will go on to tell you why. I watched the trailer for the first time at the screening of Dev D. I loved the trailer and was eagerly awaiting the release.  

Gulaal will be many things to many viewers. To me it was a musical composition of conflicts. Directed by Anurag Kashyap, Gulaal stars some of the finest actors of the generation and I presume are among Anurag's favorites too. Kay Kay Menon, Abhimanyu Singh (in Lakshya and Jannat), Mahie Gill (remember Paro in Dev D), Deepak Dobriyal (Omkara, Delhi-6, 13B), Piyush Mishra (Maqbool, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Dil Se), Adity Srivastav (Satya, Black Friday), Ayesha Mohan, Jesse Randhawa (Fashion) and a host of others star to perfection in this large story.

Dilip (Raja Choudhary) comes to college in Rajpur and has Ransa (Abhimanyu Singh) for a room mate. Ransa is chosen by Dukey Bana (Kay Kay Menon) to participate in the college elections for the post of General Secretary. Dukey spends his time with Madhuri (Mahie Gill) a wannabe actress rather than his own wife and has political ambitions which seem to have horrendous implications. Ransa, son of a King of the erstwhile Rajputana state and has cut off all ties with his father. His opponent is Kiran (Ayesha Mohan) sister of Karan (Aditya Srivastav) who both are illegitimate offspring of the erstwhile King, Ransa's father. Karan in his ambition for legitimacy pushes his siter to be ambitious and contest the elections. They are supported by Jadhwal (Pankaj Jha) who rags Dilip and the new teacher in college Anuja (Jesse Randhawa) by keeping them naked in a room. The ragging leads to a conflict between Ransa and Jadhwal which is settled temporarily by the involvement of Bhatti (Deepak Dobriyal) the lieutenant of Dukey Bana. The entire unfolding of characters, conflicts and story is viewed by Prithvi bana (Piyush Mishra) who is the elder brother of Dukey but is lost in his own world of poetry and lyrics. He spews them forth and therein lay the true story of Gulaal.

The stage is set by introducing all these interesting characters. The stage set, the characters introduced, the conflicts unfold. Karan will go to any lengths to get legitimacy and power, even it means using his sister to seduce Dilip. Ransa will never accept his father's support nor will he be submissive to Dukey Bana. Dukey will never relent in his dream of a renewed state of Rajputana even if it means revolting against the democratic government of India. Anuja leaves her affection for Dilip as a mere speculation for the audience and you will never really understand the conflicts in her mind. Dilip is dragged into politics, passion and revenge deeper than he ever imagined he would be. All these characters, their motivations, their conflicts come together for an explosive climax. Along the way, which is pretty long (2.5 hrs+ although you do not realize it) you see the world of Rajpur in Rajasthan, the politics of college, the love of youth through the eyes of many characters but none as strong as the maniacal lyrics of Piyush Mishra spoken through the character Prithvi Bana. Prithvi Bana ends up being the most powerful narrator whose metaphors and contemporary views come forth in a timely manner throughout the movie. 

I thought the second half and the climax could have been far better but then again I will be watching the movie again for I thought I did not grasp the complete power of the lyrics in correlation to the movie. The movie has been in the works from 2001 and is supposed to be close to Anurag's heart. A brilliant mix of characters, music, lyrics, motives, conflicts and performances is why I liked this movie.

Performances of Kay Kay Menon, Deepak Bobriyal, Abhimanyu Singh and Piyush Mishra will stand out. Abhimanyu Singh as Ransa, the young brash Rajput will stay in your mind long after you leave the theatre. A must watch for people who love cinema, politics.

With Black Friday, Dev D and Gulaal, Anurag Kashyap is easily amongst the most exciting film-makers in india today. He would come close to being the Tarantino of Indian cinema.

Many a similarity between the caste-territorial politics in the movie and real life politics in India can be found. Do not get yourself worked up by that though. Just sit back and enjoy. Is it worth watching ? You decide.



Sharmila,  March 19, 2009 at 11:03 PM  

Another hit from the Kashyap clan...I guess this flim has a very different narrative which is why it has become so popular. Brilliant performances from KK, Abhimanyu Singh as Ransa - a character so powerful i guess after Gabbar from Sholay.

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