Gulaal poster


wogma rating: Owner's Pride! (?)

quick review:

A political drama with some of the most intense performances. What more could a thinking brain ask for? Sure, there'll be nits to be picked but while walking out I just wanted to savor the experience.

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Director: Anurag Kashyap
Running time: 150 minutes
Genres: Politics, Social
More Movie Info

Gulaal - Preview

NOT A REVIEW - Just wondering what is up Anurag's sleeve this time...

Anurag Kashyap must be one of the few directors in recent times whose movies are known by his name and not by the cast. Even my mom is aware that she's going into a Kashyap movie. You can’t say this about many directors.

And Gulaal is his dream project. So I'm extremely curious about what it has in store for me. It's not abstract and it looks like it has a directly comprehensible plot. It's not a simple love story either. This time it looks like we are getting into political nitty-gritty and complexity. Political discontent and angst against established systems can be very engaging if the right atmosphere is created and there are enough plot points coming together. And this is exactly what the promos imply.

Elsewhere an article gives the plot a superlative adjective -

Similar to a Shakespearean fable of desire, lost identities, love, greed, violence, murder, deceit, power and innocence, it is a film inspired by poetry; the forgotten male, macho world of power, corruption and greed, where women are just means to an end while nobody can be trusted.

While I wouldn't go to that extent (well at least not before having seen the movie) the songs too have depth, smartness and political references in them. Sample this -

Anyway, if not for anything else, one ought to look forward to music from Anurag Kashyap movies. They certainly have something novel each time. This time it's Piyush Mishra who has composed and written 8 songs, out of which two are 7.5 minutes each. Since the songs are a tribute to Sahir Ludhianvi, the songs have that oldish, melancholic, melodious feel to them.

We have tried to create the music era of 60s and 70s and as the film is the tribute the great poet, people can expect some great compositions this time," the music director says.

Some detailed music reviews - here, here, and here. After Dev D, seeing Mahi Gill on screen is another attraction too. Though this time it's only a short role. In general, I think like anyone who has liked Dev D, I'll have to realign my expectations and not let them take away from the next experience.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Honestly, I'd be more than happy to have a one-line review here saying - "Go watch the movie! Period." But that would be a lazy woman at work. It's always difficult to point a finger at what you liked in a movie. It also sort-of takes away from the experience by intellectualizing and breaking down something that you enjoyed as a whole. But you gotta do what you gotta do, so here goes.

When the opening credits begin a few minutes into the movie, I was shocked to realize - not once in those 3-4 minutes did it cross my mind that I was actually listening to a character give a political, inspirational speech. The visuals of those were so engaging and Kay Kay Menon's expressions so intense that they completely occupied my senses. For a person who gets bored very easily by monologues that even remotely sound like lectures, this was one big score on the positive side. The effort spent on casting showed in every pick and they performed well too. To name one would be to do injustice to the other and the list is really long. The women might seem a bit off because of their eccentricities but then again that might have been very intentional because they are not your regular 'miss goody two shoes' women-next-door.

And the positives only grew in number after that. Sure there's politics, and there's an undercurrent of romance. But there's a lot more happening underneath. There's dissatisfaction everywhere. The entire chain of power from the fieldworker to the henchmen to the puppet-leader to the chief strategist wants to exude confidence, power and smart-Alecness till the next person higher up comes in. Each one wants to claim superiority and find someone to pull down. Now, this is as true in state politics as it is in home or office politics.

There are many more subtle things which only a second or third viewing can uncover but you somehow sense their existence. And there are of course, what I call the director's eccentricities like the blue-and-red man and the flautist.

Then there's this strong sexual and gender-bias flittering around in this ecosystem. Though Anurag's women all seem to have a fierce sensuousness about them, they don't seem unreal and neither does it seem out-of-place, forced, contrived or any such thing. This I need to mention because I very liberally label an unnecessary expression of sexuality 'gratuitous'.

I always get apprehensive when I begin looking forward to a movie. The last thing anyone should do to themselves is spoil their experience because of their own expectations. But, one thing we can safely look forward to with a Anurag Kashyap film now is awesome and novel music, even better lyrics and perfect use of the compositions.

Too many words to describe something that one needs to get completely absorbed and soaked in. Let me just stop writing here, so you can stop reading and go watch the movie.

- meeta, a part of the audience

34 reviewers(?) - 25 yays 7 so-so 2 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Noyon Jyoti Parasara, AOL INDIA : ...nurag scripts every character cleverly providing an identity to even the smallest characters and also a contrast in form of another character... full review

Thumbs up, : ...Anurag Kashyap, Raj Chaudhary and Aparna Chaturvedi should be credited for sketching out a very well scripted film which is actually the hero of the film.... full review

Thumbs up, by Roshni Mulchandani, Bolly Spice : ...Kashyap never fails to shock and it is no wonder that Gulaal makes the audience go red with astonishment.... full review

Thumbs up, by Abhishek Mande, Buzz18 : ...One of the major strengths of this movie remains its cinematography. The tension and the constant feeling of unrest is well-captured.... full review

Thumbs up, Desicritics : ...It is definitely a spray of colours – social, political, dramatic, thrilling, loving, collegiate and cinematic among others.... full review

Thumbs up, by Udita Jhunjhunwala, DNA : ...Gulaal might be one of many metaphors in the film, but it clearly says it's time to stop living in a fantasy world. Here's a reality check - and it isn't pretty.... full review

Thumbs up, by Shashi Baliga, Hindustan Times : ...Gulaal has been a long time in the making — seven difficult years — but the delay has, if anything, added depth to this tale, told with great passion, craft and daring by Kashyap.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...Gulaal, directed by Anurag Kashyap is an endlessly fascinating movie... full review

Thumbs up, by Gaurav Malani, indiatimes : ... For those who love undiluted dry colours of cinematic drama, indulge in Gulaal this Holi.... full review

Thumbs up, Movie Talkies : ...Gulaal is intense and makes for an extremely moving and extremely disturbing movie watching experience.... full review

Thumbs up, by Anupama Chopra, NDTV : ...Anurag’s films never elicit a one-word response, which is a compliment to the director. Go and have patience.... full review

Thumbs up, by Ashok Nayak, Now : ...Phew! What a movie. The complicated script with many sub-plots required a highly capable director to pull it off and who better than Anurag Kashyap..!... full review

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Now : ...Shakespeare meets Quentin Tarantino in "Gulaal"... full review

Thumbs up, by Aditya Mani Jha, Passion for Cinema : ...150 awesome minutes later, all I could think was, “Which do I like better, Dev D or Gulaal?... full review

Thumbs up, by Dazed&Confused, Passion for Cinema : ...It has great dialogues, a great story very relevant in today’s time but also non-clichéd in the way that it is told.... full review

Thumbs up, by Shweta Bhatnagar, Passion for Cinema : ...Anurag Kashyap is clearly one who’s trying to marry art, theatre and movies… the whole movie looks like an Andy Warhol painting coming to life.... full review

Thumbs up, by crazyrals, Passion for Cinema : ...We can look forward to more such mature movies for a mature audience by a mature film-maker, Anurag Kashyap.... full review

Thumbs up, by Subhasish Chakraborty, Passion for Cinema : ...It’s a film which doesn’t inherit anything. It doesn’t belong to Bollywood. It doesn’t belong to a genetic at all.... full review

Thumbs up, by Prerna, Passion for Cinema : ...Those who think Dev D was his best, look out for the ‘bestest’- Gulaal.... full review

Thumbs up, by Utpal Borpujari, Passion for Cinema : ...It is a canvas that is painted with colours violent by Kashyap.... full review

Thumbs up, by Raja Sen, Rediff : ...The film is a marked departure for Kashyap in terms of treatment... full review

Thumbs up, : ...Gulaal was claimed as Anurag Kashyap’s angriest film and it indeed is... full review

Thumbs up, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...Anurag Kashyap switches to and fro time frames to tell the story and extracts flawless performances.... full review

Thumbs up, by Harshita Kohli, StarBoxOffice : ...Gulaal makes you want to come back… for Anurag Kashyap's next film!... full review

Thumbs up, by Nikhat Kazmi, Times of India : ...Kashyap once again uses cinema as a powerful medium of social comment.... full review

So-So, by Deepa Garimella, : ...Anurag Kashyap's Gulaal is a hard-hitting, realistic look at campus politics and associated topics... full review

So-So, by Martin D'souza, : ...The multiple characters hold the film together with their performances.... full review

So-So, by Amit R Agarwal, merinews : ...Like his earlier film Dev D, Gulaal too is unconventional.... full review

So-So, by Goher Iqbal Punn, Radio Sargam : ...‘Gulaal’ does not offer anything who are faint-hearted. Nor is it for those viewers who are looking for the escapist cinema.... full review

So-So, by Taran Adarsh, Sify Movies : ...Gulaal is thought-provoking and has the power to engage you at various points of the narrative.... full review

So-So, by Banno, Upper Stall : ...Camera work, mise-en-scene, editing, performances, dialogue, credible minor and major characters and music, all create a world that is complete in itself.... full review

Thumbs down, by Nikhil Kumar, Apun Ka Choice : ...If there’s anything truly worth watching in ‘Gulaal’ it’s the performances by the ensemble of talented actors... full review

Thumbs down, by Salik Shah, Passion for Cinema : ...This is neither excellent nor Anurag Kashyap at his best... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

3 readers - 3 yays 0 so-so 0 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Johnathon Kollop : great movie

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Mansi

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Shantanu :

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

Three groups of students are contesting a college election and this gives rise to inevitable political drama. This situation is only symbolic of the power-play that is prevalent in society today.

What Worked

  • The way this team has cracked how to bypass censor certification issues. I'm sure there's ample help from the production companies, but even so.
  • The initial shots where you could sense the heat of the desert.
  • The casual choreography of the mujras (courtesan songs)
  • The fact that you are never told why Anuja was ragged though she was a teacher. But I'm still curious to know.
  • The shot where Anuja's hair drips out of the sink.
  • The absolutely casual yet smart dialogues. Some of them brilliant but there are hardly any below average.
  • The Tabu references by and for Mahie Gill.
  • The entire get-up/set-up of Kiran's character. From her attire to the way she carries herself to the way she talks. There were so many contradictions yet the character worked as a whole.
  • The fact that there's a Muslim in the Rajputana political set-up.
  • Prithvi banaa talking to the president of USA.
  • The list can actually go on and on and on...

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • The time given to the romance angle towards the end. Even though Dileep's craze for Kiran was only a means to show the angst of the common man on being used for the personal benefits of politicians.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Goons bashing each other at equal intervals.
  • Language: Loads of profanity and sex talk.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Not explicitly shown, but you know the people offscreen are either nude or half naked.
  • Concept: College politics with a comment on the impotency of the common man.

Gulaal - Cast, crew, links

Official Sites:
Background Score:
Action Choreography:
Music Director:
Costume Designer:
Art Direction:
Running time:
150 minutes

Comments (2)

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Great movie..excellent screenplay and dashing dialogues..altogether a super hit movie.

Gulaal is perhaps Anurag Kashyap's best effort! Mindblowing movie!

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