Friday, March 07, 2014

Review: Gulab Gang

One star

Gulag For The Audience

Mini Review:

When Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla play roles usually written for Prakash Raj and Mukesh Tiwari, you know Bollywood is close to hitting rock bottom. It's Gulag for the audiences.

Main Review:

A courageous woman called Sampat Pal really runs a pink saree wearing brigade of women who carry sticks and are working at grassroots level to free the village women from domestic violence and death. The documentary Gulabi Gang (jaw-droppingly real) has released today and it tells the real story of Gulabi Gang.

Gulab Gang is a work of fiction, and it has been released today after being embroiled in a lawsuit from Sampat Pal Devi who claimed that no permission was taken from her even though this fictional work seems broadly based on the Gulabi Gang she heads.

It is important to note that this film technically escapes scrutiny from reality because it they said that it is a work of fiction.

Alas, no one in the audience suspected the fiction would be so tedious and teeth-grittingly bad.

The story is as fictional as the bad Bollywood remakes of violent Tollywood stories. Now we have seen bad remakes make 100 crores with the violence and the gore. We have happily watched every star (from Salman to Shahid) get into a police uniform and beat up baddies like Prakash Raj (and sometimes Sonu Sood, Ashish Vidyarthi, Sayaji Shinde or Mukesh Rishi). To lure two female stars to act in a comeback film no one would suspect was really Policegiri in sarees, is as fictional a tale as can get. After that everything is simply downhill.

The dialog belongs to a fictional India. Have never heard such a murder of language. TV serials like Gustakh Dil (Life OK channel) and Diya Aur Baati (Star TV) get it right, so do movies like Queen (local Delhi Hindi) and Gangs Of Wasseypur (Dhanbad/Bihar). Here the hotch-potch gets unbearable, and you begin to wish Madhuri Dixit would just speak her normal Americanised Hindi, and Juhi Chawla would do the same. Their fake 'I'm-a-Village Belle' so will speak pidgin English is ghastlier than hearing American accents on actors playing Greek Gods.

The village is fictional too. Perfect tree in the corner of a perfect compound (even Osama or Branch Dravidians or the Aryan Nation didn't plan it so well).

The events are so fictional you've seen them all a hundred times in movies. A politician's son and his entourage sitting idle? Then, pardon my crassness, you must have a young girl cross their path so she can be raped. A politician? Then he must betray the cause, and die violently. A bribe-taking government babu must be shown eating and talking with his mouth full. Women must be dragged by their hair and be tortured and they must be Tannishtha Chatterji. 

Yes, there was a chilling moment when the rapist is punished, but the delivery reminded me of Underwater Nazi Zombies emerging from water in an old cult favorite Shock Waves, and I missed some ghastly background score, so that was a blessing in disguise. 

My following confession borders on the fictional too. So hear me out. The constant song and dance was so annoying this movie felt like a musical. And I missed item numbers in the Bollywood remakes that keep the action separate from the nonsense...

Speaking of action, even the lousiest of Bollywood movies do blood and gore beautifully. Here the accent was on making Madhuri Dixit look like the perfect Durga and Kali that they forgot a simple thing: when you slash someone with a sickle or a knife or a made-up weapon, and they are lying on the ground, your weapon must have at least some blood on it. Aah, but why should it? This is fiction, they claim, and fictional deaths or slashes, may produce fictional wounds and fictional blood...

And the tale ends with a fictional sympathy-garnering by listing names and tales of real victims of violence. But most of us had had enough. I saw Laxmi's name being used, and walked out. My term in this Gulag lasted 139 minutes.

P.S. The one star we offer here, is shared by the two brilliant support actors: Priyanka Bose and Divya Jagdale. And that is no fiction.   


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