Gulaal Movie Review: This is Vintage Anurag Kashyap!
Gulaal is the second film that Anurag Kashyap directed, right after his doomed first, Paanch. The world which Gulaal inhabits is a violent one as it yokes together the world of student politics, love and power. One can easily believe that Gulaal is an earlier venture, not because it is clumsy, but because it has a certain roughness, a certain raw quality to it, which often works to the film's advantage as well. Being a Anurag Kashyap film, Gulaal is intense and makes for an extremely moving and extremely disturbing movie watching experience. The director uses the film as a medium to expose the existing social norms, specially the state of politics in India, vitiated totally by the differences in caste, religion and region. Kashyap's film is hard hitting and it manages to engage its audience on both the mental and emotional plane. But the film is not without its flaws. Being a very talented writer, Kashyap manages to string together a very taunt and engrossing first half, but somehow in the second half, as it moves towards its resolution, the movie starts to fall apart. The film's story centres around Dileep ( Raj Singh Chaudhary), who comes to Jaipur for further studies. His life is changed forever when he is drawn into the bloody world of student politics in the city. He is reduced to a pawn in the in the hands of Dukey Bana (Kay Kay Menon), who is heading a movement to revive the Rajputana kingdom of yore, independent of the Indian Republic. This underground movement is funded by former maharajas and rajahs, who have still not reconciled themselves to losing their privy purses to the Indian Government after independence. Bana tries to infiltrate the student body and convinces Rananjay Singh Ransa (Abhimanyu Singh) to contest the college elections on behalf of the Rajputana party. Ransa is pitted against Kiran. In the run up to the elections, Ransa is murdered by Karan (Aditya Srivastav), Kiran's brother. Dileep gets dragged into this mess when he is forced to stand elections in Ransa's place and wins the rigged poll. Undeterred by this loss, the treavherous brother sister duo of Karan and Kiran will do anything to grab power. Dileep gets close to Kiran, who helps him in working as the general secretary of the student's body. Already a little unsure of himself, Dileep is totally taken over by Kiran, who now turns her attention to Bana. Unable to handle this state of affairs, a trapped Dileep finally realises how he was being led and used by both Bana and Kiran. Like most typical Kashyap fare, this one too is violent, in language and in intent. The maker believes in going all the way and taking his ideas to their logical conclusion. But the only problem is that Kashyap has too many sub stories and plots running simultaneously, hence his resolution does not get its due share of attention as he has too many strings to tie up. Also as a storyteller, somewhere he is not able to convince us totally about Dileep's final turnaround. But in the areas in which Kashyap excels, he is quite peerless. The film's dialogues are punchy and even though they are full of expletives and are often violent in nature, the situation seems to ask for it. Another factor which really works in Kashyap's favour, is his instinctive understanding of the world of Indian politics and its compulsions. Also, he seems to know how to tell an absorbing story. The film has been superbly captured on camera by cinematographer Rajeev Ravi. The film's music is by Piyush Mishra, who also plays a peace loving Rajput in the movie. Mishra has also written some of the lyrics in the movie and has done a wonderful job with his unconventional poetry and music. It's amazing, the number of hats that this man, Mishra, can don at the same time. He is peerless when it comes to acting and he is at his innovative best in the music and lyric department of this movie. However, adding the real colour to Gulaal are the performances by the main actors, Kay Kay Menon, Piyush Mishra, Aditya Srivastav, Deepak Dobriyal, Abhimanyu Singh, Ayesha Mohan and Mahie Gill. Even newbie Raj Singh Chaudhary impresses with his histrionics. But the film's real star is really Kay Kay, who stands tall in this very talented line up. With Gulaal, Kashyap makes another departure from the run of the mill and makes a film which is different. It provokes, disturbs and most dangerously, makes you think. It is vintage Kashyap at his best.