Monday, June 09, 2014

Gulaab Gang

I love me some action heroine films. You know, I really, really love Lara Croft and Kill Bill. You get the drift. So I had to go and watch Gulaab Gang, especially when I really, really love Juhi Chawla. Here, gossip rags said, she was in utter villainous mode. I had to go and see it. I did not care much about Madhuri though. Never had. But the film was touted as an action extravaganza between Madhuri and Juhi, former rivals to the top heroine rat race.

The film begins well, focusing on the issues of the aam aadmi, paani, bijli, anaaj and so on, especially issues concerning women. The do-gooder heroine really wants a school for the girls. As the film progresses, however, it is mired in petty, dirty politics, interspersed with scenes borrowed from B-Grade Hindi films, both literally and figuratively.

I did not have problems with Madhuri’s murderous intentions and her Tonny Ja action avatar, which are quite entertaining in a camp way, but when Juhi picks up a machine gun in the middle of a holi song, it was just too incongruous.

Then there were the stupid dances and those forgettable songs. It’s a Madhuri film, so there had to be dances. Still they feel like torture, even more tortuous than the tacky exchanges of dialogues between the politician and the activist. For an apparent issue-based film, the dialogues are really corny, especially those given to Juhi’s politician, as if they were written for somebody in a film starring Akshay Kumar directed by Prabhu Deva. It’s to Juhi’s credit that she does a fine job with it.

I think I can empathize with the writer of the film, who is also the director, Soumik Sen. The sole point of the film was to mount a rousing conflict between the characters played by Madhuri and Juhi, the female Robin Hood of the badlands and the vile politician archetype. Sen uses every device at his disposal to make it happen, even at times, at the expense of the narrative. The whole election rigmarole was a utter nonsense.

More deplorable still is how the other characters are relegated to the sidelines. The best characters of the film are played by Priyaka Bose, with her smoldering sensuality and by Divya Jagdale, with her tomboy antics. When you wanted to see more of them, the film decides to bump them off, quite ingloriously. I would have loved to see more of Jagdale and her boatman lover. I would have loved to see more of Bose, who really smolders. She is the most convincing action heroine in the film and when is offed ingloriously, the film was lost to me.

And oh, don’t get me started on the foolish flashbacks. This is what I call immediate flashback, or flashback for fools. Every time, the film’s good guys take revenge on a bad guy, the scene cuts to a sepia-tonned flashback, to remind the audience why the bad guy is being punished. Note to the film’s editor: Audiences are not idiots, you know. If you think, we won’t get the message, then something is wrong with your film, don’t blame us.

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