Monday, March 16, 2009


Rating : 9/10
Release Date : 13th Mar ‘09
Time : 170 minutes
Director : Anurag Kashyap; Writer : Raja Chaudhary, Anurag Kashyap, Rahul Maharya; Music : Piyush Mishra
Starring : Kay Kay Menon, Mahi Gill, Aditya Shrivastava, Piyush Mishra, Deepak Dobriyal, Ayesha Mohan, Raja Chaudhary, Abhimanyu Singh, Jesse Randhawa

“Tera bhai paidaishi hi ullu ka patha hai, ki koi course kiya hai ?”

“Baaki sab hain pitte huay doot, bas Rananjay hi asli Rajput”

“Jaise door desh ke tower main ghus jaaye aeroplane”

“Jaise sare aam ghus gaye Iraq mein Uncle Sam”

“Jaise bina baat ke Afghanistan ka bajgayo band”

While the last three are refrains from a song towards the end, all the above still give an idea of the language and fierce satire that awaits you as you watch this masterpiece unfold. Almost every piece of dialogue makes a statement by itself. Its bizarre, intense, colourful, surreal, rustic and crazy all at the same time.

This is a story which is not linear at all. It’s the story of people feeling betrayed by their politicians, the story of a kid who comes to law college just to study but finds himself reluctantly in the thick of things, it’s the story of the son of a Rajput king who doesn’t want to be serving tea to foreign ladies who come and live in his palace which is now a hotel. It’s the story of a female teacher who is ragged brutally. It’s the story of a person leading a separatist movement for Rajputana. The story of a man who tastes love and the pleasures of sex for the first time and then becomes infatuated. The story of a pair of illegitimate siblings trying to gain their father’s name or at least some of his fame. The story of the obsession behind being a 'true' Rajput and the macho-ness that goes with that territory. But most of all, it’s a commentary on the sad state of affairs in this country – corruption, politics, education et all.

How this all comes together, without ever losing sight of the main narrative, without flagging or boring the viewer is the brilliance of the film and its dialogue. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, out will come another rustic gem. Or another satirical or excellently appropriate song. Or another outlandishly dressed character. Or another out of this world locale. The ability to constantly surprise you is yet another strength of this film. The soundtrack is eminently ownable, with almost no song there just for the heck of it. And while the acting was excellent overall, Kay Kay dials up the intensity as only he can for this one. Abhimanyu Singh was a show stealer as was Piyush Mishra as the crazy singer and the self appointed conscience of Kay Kay. And Ayesha Mohan fitted the part of an innocent seductress perfectly.

There are shades of Dev D here – Anurag Kashyap may even have used some of the sets – the Hotel 69 with its democracy beer, neon-lighting, Che Guevera posters was as out of place in Rajastan as possible. There are shades of Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam as well, especially in the relationship between Kay Kay and his wife. But the film is inspired and ends quite fittingly with the haunting classic song from Pyaasa, which coveys passion and frustration, like no other

“ye mahalon, yeh takhton, yeh tajon ki duniya
yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye, to kya hai”

P.S. For a passionate perspective on how Gulaal came to be read this article written by Anurag Kashyap


Anonymous said...

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I'm a critic myself, used to write for planetbollywood,,, and my own blog (aakshay shah).

Here is the link to my old blog(written under my alias Akshay Shah):

and also the link to my new blog(real name is Prashant but friends call me Praz). As you can see im a HUGE MOVIE BUFF myself.

Stay in touch and keep up the great work


GuruGupta said...

Glad you liked Gulaal. Anurag kashyap, prakash jha and vishal bharadwaj clearly have lived in those times in the hindi heartland...and are able to capture and recreate that feel in their works...stylised but gritty and rough. I don't know if you have watched HAASIL- a few years old, but similar setting- UP college politics. Jimmy shergill and Hrishita Bhatt.