Sunday, February 07, 2016

7. Gulaab Gang

When Gulaab Gang had released, I had two reasons to watch it. One, Madhuri Dixit was returning to the big screen after a long hiatus (and that too, in a completely different sort of role). Two, the director of the film (who is the writer and composer as well) is a ‘social media friend’. But as luck would have it, I was caught up in a terribly busy period at work when the film released and could not catch it in the theatres.
Nearly two years after the film released, I finally managed to catch it a couple of days back on TV. Watching a film is never as good as watching it in the theatres – thanks to all the breaks – but I recorded it and watched it in one go.

I liked the film a lot, principally because it was a throwback to that old style of Hindi cinema where the good and evil clash in a series of epic battles before evil is vanquished in a volcano of blood and gore. We have seen Amitabh or Dharmendra play the oppressed villager so many times to Amrish Puri or Sadashiv Amrapurkar’s evil politician and yet, a well-made repeat of those plots still manages to engage.
Gulaab Gang, of course, has that brilliant twist in the cast by having Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla in the traditionally male roles. And that works superbly for most part of the film.  

What happens really well in the film is the flow of whistle-inducing dialogues. Both the actresses – though Madhuri a bit more, for obvious reasons – have the most kickass lines. The "Danda sabka peer hai" (Rod is God!) line was promoted a lot in the trailers and that is just one of the many great lines in the film. I particularly liked Madhuri Dixit’s “Uparwali jab deti hai toh chhappad phaadke deti hai… neechewali jab leti hai toh patloon phaadke leti hai” line. Good enough for me to have remembered it from two days back J  
Apart from the dialogues, the action set-pieces of the film are really well done – more so, because women were doing all the action scenes. So Madhuri Dixit and her gang deliver some butt-clenchingly good action. The power with which the sickles dug into the flesh gave me the cringes many times in the film!
Madhuri’s entrance scene and its buildup is one of the best that I can remember in recent time, heroes included – really setting her up for a great role. Even the scene in which Juhi Chawla leaves the building to greet a waiting crowd only to be upstaged by a regal Madhuri Dixit behind her is masterfully done.

What didn’t work me was the placement of songs. They really hampered the flow of the story and I was impatiently waiting for the film to get on whenever the songs happened. 
At the time of the release, I was a bit disappointed to see the not-so-positive reviews of the film though many of them praised Juhi Chawla’s performance as the one to watch out for. I was rather underwhelmed by her performance as – to me – she did not manage to break completely free of her super-sweet image and become the evil politician on screen. She had some great lines but she just didn’t convey the menace the character was supposed to.  

But nevertheless, Gulaab Gang was a really entertaining watch because it got the essence of old-school Bollywood really well. The dhamaka dialogues, the kaante ka takkar, the swishing sickles, the larger-than-life leads, the eye-candy heroines… oh wait!

[Frivolous Footnote: Wondering how Sridevi would have been in Juhi Chawla’s role. She does over-the-top acts really well. She has a natural sneer. (Or is it a snarl?) And her rivalry with Madhuri has a jagged edge that Juhi’s rivalry probably never had. Hmmm...]

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