In the midst of action blockbusters, new age romances, rib-tickling comedies and some experimental/accidental fluke hits, we have the biopics and reality films which have been gaining a lot of praise and attention of late with the likes of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013), Paan Singh Tomar (2010) and Shahid (2013).
Does a film with an all-women lead stand a chance in luring audiences from all groups and make them flock to cinemas? No, is the answer.
Audiences are genuinely not interested in watching a film without any ‘Hero’ (precisely, a male one) and definitely not with two semi-retired yesteryears actresses no matter how great the hysterical popularity they have had. Women empowerment appeals to us on paper, government policies and social causes but sadly not on the silver screen!
Gulaab Gang first of all is based on a group (Gulaabi Gang) of revolutionary women from northern India who make sure justice is delivered (in their own way) which is regularly denied to the weak, oppressed women and the poor in such rural regions as the corrupt system clinches its iron fist on the helpless and hapless aam juntaa (common people).
Madhuri (Rajjo) plays the leader Sampat Pal Devi (chief) and Juhi plays a symbolic politician in a shambolic village. The first half is focused on how the group solves burning issues of women as their plight starts right from childhood (child marriages, denial of education, molestation, and dowry) and the second half on Rajjo’s battle with the mighty Sumitra and her team of bureaucrats and police.
[easyreview title=”GULAAB GANG” cat1title=”Story” cat1detail=”Thrilling, detailed with all the impact and character to do justice to the subject.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Performances” cat2detail=”Both divas show they had saved their best for this movie, truly powerful performances.” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Direction” cat3detail=”First time director Soumik Sen shows a lot of maturity and handles the plot very well.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Production” cat4detail=”Very realistic picturisation of rural India, action sequences are shot to perfection.” cat4rating=”4″ cat5title=”Music” cat5detail=”Soulful and situational music by Soumik Sen.” cat5rating=”4″ summary=’It’s a Pink Alert for Evil! Gulaab Gang is realistic cinema which is artistic yet entertaining, a must watch for all. Review Scores by Saurin Shah.’]
The story begins with Rajjo as a kid so determined to study she defies all pressure, leaving home and establishing an organisation for women where they not only learn the alphabet and numbers but also economic self-reliance and the art of self-defence and attack.
Their social service is going fine until they cross paths with Sumitra Devi and halt her juggernaut during the election ending up with Rajjo contesting against her. Does Rajjo manage to become people’s leader in assembly or does Sumitra succeed in her evil plans is an interesting and thrilling tale of the two.
Soumik Sen in his first film impresses in all departments, with a social, de-glamorous subject there was always a challenge not letting this become another documentary (with already a couple made before this, Pink Saris, 2010 by Kim Longinotto and Gulabi Gang, 2012 by Nishtha Jain).
His story portrays the group so meticulously sans any artificial sub-plots or drama, also it is well extended with all the elements of a good gripping movie.
The head-on confrontations between the leads is scripted in a way that keeps us on the edge of our seats and Soumik gives a finishing touch with a perfect climax of whether they fight the final battle to settle all scores.
Madhuri has played such ruthless and powerful characters in the past (Mrityudand, Dharavi, Prahaar) enough to prove she is much more than a million-dollar smile, a pretty face and a dancing diva. Her acting as Rajjo is spot on; she doesn’t shout or go on a violence streak like Phoolan Devi, she doesn’t even try to become a messiah or a one-person army for the villagers.
Instead she remains tacit, soft-spoken and mature but firm, tenacious and righteous and doesn’t really fight but works her way towards her dream while not being over-ambitious.
Juhi on the other hand is a real surprise in a jade black shade of a character as we could never imagine her in anything such ever, even in her extended career of playing supporting and side characters she has always remained a bubbly ever smiling innocent face.
But she does an Amrish Puri (one of the best villains in Indian cinema) act and plays the villain so convincingly. Others have done equally good job particularly the TV soap actress, Divya Jagdale.
Soumik Sen gives a rural dusty touch to the music and churns out some decent tracks like ‘Jai Ho’ and ‘Rang Se Hui Rangeeli’. The title track played throughout the film is exciting and sets the tempo.
Go celebrate Girl Power with Gulaab Gang. It is not only a social uplifting subject but is equally entertaining and has a lot of heart.