139 Min | Action – Drama | March 2014
IMDB Rating: 6.7
Director: Soumik Sen
Starring: Madhuri Dixit, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Juhi Chawla
Gulaab Gang Review: Nothing like a screen-rippingly pitch-perfect morality tale. Soumik sen casts female protagonists: a vigilante group “Gulaab Gang” leader Rajjo and a power-hungry politician Sumitra Devi, as the horn-locking leads and delivers a sucker punch. That it has female leads is sensational only when seen in a narrow context of the stars playing them but their character’s causes, aspirations and life-paths are more a product of their personalities. Rajjo’s fight for social justice and education is as gender independent as Sumitra’s power-trip. It’s coincidental that Rajjo’s fight rehabilitates more women than men as she is working within a society that heaps double the disadvantages on the females. Just like it’s coincidental that Sumitra finds herself working within male-dominated party-offices. Not once did I have to sit through lectures against another gender, and that is the first victory of Gulaab Gang. The fight here, for justice and Enlightenment of masses goes beyond gender, as it should be.
Bolstered by a terrific supporting ensemble (Divya Jagdale, Priyanka Bose, a mellow Tannishta Chatterjee, and all the guys) the two leads stand tall and deliver the goods like only they can. Juhi Chawla, cast against type transforms herself into the vile Sumitra Devi, a person who has fashioned herself as the ultimate political scion. Her self-satisfied smug grin at any opportunity to brow-beat and manipulate is as compelling to watch as her intolerance for Rajjo’s popularity. Rajjo brings out the worst in her, to the point that she’s compelled to smuggle arms for the ultimate face-off and throw her gloved-hand approach she was found carping about for much her screen time. It’s a scene seeing her go down and kudos to the director to build her up to be an intimidating adversary with an unpredictable arsenal of “moves”.
Finally, there is Dixit. Being a hardcore fan, I was left underwhelmed by how emotionally contained and restrained her last two screen characters, in Aaja Nachle and Dedh Ishqiya were. She was beguiling in both, but how I ached to see her bare her fangs a bit. She is again a single crusader in Gulaab Gang, but Sen lets her rip. She nails those dialogues in close-ups, absolutely convinces in action sequences (who wants to watch a CGI overloaded 300 sequel when you see some awesome, well contextualised wire-fights right here!) but what still haunts me, much after the screening’s finished, is how she had completely internalised Rajjo’s crusade for education. There is this scene where the masterful camera comes down on her as she reads the approval of the funds and the way she hugs that piece of paper, it just summed everything.
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