I 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.