Gulaal - Movie posterI just watched the movie Gulaal by Anurag Kashyap. This movie comes almost simultaneously with his previous movie Dev D, which was a modern day adaption of Devdas. Although I found Dev D quite average, I must say Anurag Kashyap has bounced back high with Gulaal. Anurag Kashyap has faced a quite rocky path while making movies. His first couple of ventures had been plagued with problems from the beginning. Black Friday and Paanch were both banned in India for a variety of reasons. His anger and defiance against traditional Bollywood is visible in his films. Gulaal beautifully describes the power play involved in politics in a fictional setting in Rajasthan. The way in which college level youth is recruited and “sponsored” for representing a particular party is shown nicely.

The two major themes of the movie are the struggle for power and of betrayal. And this is done at multiple levels. Just when you realize a particular character using someone for his own ends, you find that he is being used by someone as well. The story is long and follows a winded path, though it keeps you interested. There is only one point of confusion in the story. The speech which Kay Kay Menon gives is rousing no doubt, but the question remains in my mind what was he fighting for? A united Rajputana? His actions and words didn’t give any indication that he was trying to do that.

Kay Kay Menon delivers a powerful performance as always. The rest of the cast play their roles with vigour and sincerity as well. Especially commendable are the performances of Deepak Dobriyal (Bhati), Piyush Mishra (Pruthvi Bana) and Abhimanyu Singh (Ransa). Aditya Srivastava (Karan) plays the quiet brooding role of the scheming pupeteer with ease. Even the dude playing the role of half man-half woman was scary sometimes, funny at times. The weak link though in the entire cast is Raja Chaudhary who plays the character of Dileep Singh. He seemed to falter at parts.

The music and songs of the movie are quite hummable as well. Most of them are modified versions of old patriotic songs, but nevertheless they are quite funny. Especially, the song Ranaji is a hoot with its wacky and irreverent lyrics.

All in all, Gulaal is a well researched and brilliantly directed venture into the dark side of politics. It shows how blood and money are of no value when fighting for the seat of power. The movie makes for worthwhile viewing and makes you wonder how many such power plays will shape out during the upcoming elections.

Back from an examination paper which didn’t go too well (what’s new?) So I should most likely be in a mood to unleash my sarcasm on someone. The most likely candidate this time around is the new kid on the block, KRK. I’m sure you’ve heard of him, or seen the movie trailers doing the rounds on TV these days. He is the hero of the new film Desh Drohi which seeks to send a message of brotherhood and harmony across the nation. And no, its not about LOC or Indo-Pak relations, but about the feud between the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and the northern states.

For once I won’t ridicule anyone. Reasons, political and otherwise, forbid me to do it and I do not wish to turn this into a sarcastic free-for-all. Some say it is a movie worth going to, because it teaches about the importance of being together in these troubled times. Some say the movie is not worth a review. Is KRK a replacement to SRK? Who know, but all said and done, in the eternal words of Jugad Singh, Aadmi sachha lagta hai. (Wish the placement season would be as simple as this)

My friends say there is no comparison between SRK and KRK. But isn’t that what people said when SRK came into the scene? SRK vs Amitabh? KRK vs SRK? As Einstein put it, its all relative. He has a long way to go and so here’s wishing the fellow all the best in Bollywood. We come in peace.

Rather than me writing a half-baked review on the movie, I’ll quote an amazing paragraph I read in IMDB’s message board. To realize what this movie represents beyond the individual characters is further mind-blowing.

“At the risk of oversimplifying things…I think it’s helpful to look at the film as an intricately woven metaphor spun from an everyday “snapshot” of what’s going in the world to guarantee American access for oil. The brilliance in the film, for me at least, is in the totality of that snapshot; it captures everything, good bad and indifferent.

The characters aren’t so much driven by themselves, rather they are what they represent. For instance, Christopher Plummer’s character, beyond whoever-the-hell he’s credited as playing, is America. George Clooney’s role, beyond “Bob,” is that of the “intelligence community” in America.

Matt Damon, beyond the energy consultant, is the well-intentioned, market-economy in America. Matt Damon’s wife is everyone who’s just trying to get by and be happy in America. Together, they sort of represent “the people” of America, and their child who dies in the pool is the American G.I., the people’s sons and daughters, caught up in something completely out of their control, yet still paying the ultimate price just for being there.

Everyone’s character, all the way through, even down to the African man who tries in vain to get on the elevator with Damon, Clooney and “the good prince” (can’t remember the actor or his character’s name), represents something else. And it makes film insanely good.

Just that small elevator scene speaks volumes because in that snapshot, you see America’s treatment of the problems in Africa. You’ve got the American business community (Damon) and the American intelligence community (Clooney) all too busy focusing on the Middle East (the Prince) to notice, or care, that Africa is being neglected and left out. It’s just a moment in the film, but so, so powerful.

And that’s really what the whole movie is. Just a big, smart [metaphor] with everyone playing a part.”

Thanks ben_m_hall, wherever you are.