Gulaab Gang - Review

wogma rating: Watch when on TV (?)
quick review:

Something that could have had so much meat and punch, becomes just another common (wo)man vs. system film.

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Wogma Review

If it were not as expected, Gulaab Gang would have been disappointing. So, as the trailer pointed out, the film is one dramatic scene after another without respite.

The drama is magnified by Madhuri Dixit's emphatic dialogue delivery and Juhi Chawla's drawl. The latter actually grows on you in a bit. Juhi Chawla's Sumitra is as cunning as every second politician and the actor makes it very easy for you to hate her. Juhi Chawla is at her best when she is required to portray Sumitra's fickle ego.

Unfortunately, Madhuri Dixit's character, Rajjo Devi is directed in such a way that she has no option but to play her character with extra style, even if she is from a little village. Once you get over it though, you see that Madhuri Dixit has tried hard to work in variety within the restraints of the many slow-motion sequences and forced, strong one-liners.

It is a shame then, that despite these one-liners, the film lacks punch. There are few side characters that retain interest but then again, they are more or less clones of each other with respect to in their personalities.

The writing of the overall film takes the audience's need for justice for women for granted. Right from the titles, you are never given enough cause to side with the gang of women who take justice in their hands. It is assumed that you know how bad the wrong by the wrong-doers is. Given that, any punishment the Gulaab Gang decides for them is also to be accepted as apt.

Moving on, the situations created seem disjointed. It feels more like sequences were conceptualized independently and fit in together forcefully. For example, the sub-plots used to display Sumitra's borderline megalomaniac personality go overboard within the context of the film. Thus losing out on both an awesome dark character that she could be and building a really powerful story to justify these intense sub-plots.

Then all you are left with are the vibrant songs. Here I concede, to watch Madhuri Dixit dance, I don't need any context to see grace and elegance incarnate. And this when she's not even at her best. She must be the only actress who actually dances. As opposed to other actors who have the potential to convert even the most melodious of songs to an aerobic beat.

Even so, it is disservice to the topic at hand - empowerment of the women and poor from the interiors of the country, if one of the major things I take away from the film are its (not the best) dance sequences.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Lots and lots.
  • Language: Not many abusive words but harsh language.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Rape implied.
  • Concept: A group of women who have taken upon themselves to protect the wronged women in their community try their hands at politics.
  • General Look and Feel: Contemporary.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 2
  • Story: 1.5
  • Lead Actors: 3
  • Character Artists: 3
  • Dialogues: 3
  • Screenplay: 2
  • Music Director: 3
  • Lyrics: 2.5

Gulaab Gang - Movie Details

Gulaab Gang - Trailer

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Comments (11)

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Anup:

It was really difficult to decide which movie to watch this Friday as three movies are releasing and all of them looks good(including Total Siyapa which havnt been previewed here),,,,.....
Lastly i have decided to watch Gulaab Gang,,,,,really excited to watch Juhi in neg role

meetu:

@Anup I do hope to preview Total Siyappa early next week. But, all these films are slated for next Friday.

TimELiebe:

Meetu - I don't think anybody in my group of US Indian Movie Fans will care. Madhuri Dixit kicks butt? We are SO there! :)

meetu:

@TimELiebe I can imagine. :D Go for it!!

Rasel Rony:

Another great review Meetu. Thanks for awesome review of Gulaab Gang.

TimELiebe:

Just curious - is Madhuri Dixit living in India again? Last I'd heard, she was living in Colorado with her doctor husband and kids….

meetu:

@Rasel Thank you!

@TimELiebe I have no idea! I am pretty uninterested in Bollywood related news :)

TimELiebe:

Well, we saw it, Meetu, and all of us pretty much agree with you. Madhuri Dixit is extraordinary in a one-dimensional heroic role - and Juhi Chawla is even more one-dimensional, but since she's the villain she can actually have fun with her character! It feels less like a movie than a collection of scenes pasted together in a vague sense of order - and the descent into melodrama in the second half made the events (supposedly based on the Gulbali Gang, an actual group of women fighting to empower themselves in a poor part of India) feel like utter bakwas!

Seriously: When in the movie's climax, That Character Did The Thing with The Thing instead of The Other Thing he was supposed to do? It was sure exciting - and didn't make a lick of sense to any of us! (Didn't you expect him to turn to the camera and cry, "I can't help myself! They told me I had to do this for the trailer!") It strikes me, at least, that if he'd done what he was supposed to, Rajjo Didi's plan would have made her Gang look like a bunch of terrorists rather than heroes who were being set up by corrupt authority. Actually, the whole climax made no sense, as Juhi Chawla's Ma'am had gotten everything she wanted, including leverage over Rajjo Didi, just by being publicly seen to be Doing Her Job.

We liked it - but wish it had been a better movie about some very real problems women and the poor still face in India today. And is it me, or is Madhuri Dixit telling her agent, "I'm already a dance legend in Bollywood - now I want to be Sunny Deol!" ;)

meeta:

"is Madhuri Dixit telling her agent, "I'm already a dance legend in Bollywood - now I want to be Sunny Deol!" -

ha ha ha ha... I guess it is about getting a role that is non-standard and meaty compared to props in a mainstream film.

TimELiebe:

I guess it is about getting a role that is non-standard and meaty compared to props in a mainstream film.

::shakes head sadly:: I'm sure you're right, @Meetu - which makes this movie, and her performance in it, even worse somehow. It honestly would have been a much better movie, though probably a less effective bit of pro-woman propaganda, if Rajjo Didi had been something besides ever-virtuous, ever-reasonable, and in all ever-justified in every "extreme" measure she took. (If her halo were any more burnished, Buddha and Jesus both would have needed sunglasses to stand next to her!) I haven't seen the documentary on the real-life Gulbali Gang, but I'll bet Rajjo Didi's real-life analogue is nowhere near as calm and reasonable as she's played here - not if she bucked male-dominated tradition enough to form her own Gang to empower women and punish abusive men, she's not.

It's interesting - in Satyagraha Amitabh Bachchan manages to play a Gandhiite schoolmaster who leads a reform movement, and while his character's principles and virtue are completely convincing, so is his stubbornness and anger, and his intransigence which hinders as much as helps. Part of that may be the gender of the characters and the movements they're leading, but I can't help but feel that Ms. Dixit's character would have been vastly improved if she were a bit closer to Mr. Bachchan's than to the Well-Armed Saint she plays here.

meeta:

@TimELiebe hmmm...good point there. But, I am almost always wary of comparisons. In the sense that, if a film were to be like some other film then it would be that film and not the one it is now.

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