Gulab Gang
(Google Image)

I write only book reviews and this is the first time I am kind of provoked to review a cinema. I was absolutely ignorant about its controversies, had not read a single review by the cinema pundits, clueless how it fared in the box office, how its music was scored after launch etc.- when I went to watch the film two days after its release.

In the hall as I read about the disclaimer on Sampat Pal I tried to google more about Gulab Gang during intermission. Ah the digital age – not patient enough to reach home and gather information.

Debutant director Soumik Sen and producers claim that the movie is a work of fiction. Most of us know what to make of such a statement – inspired or whatever! As a viewer, for me personally, movie is mood specific. I wanted to watch the two leading ladies away from pools and trees and very far away from their darr or dhak dhak moments. The poster looked just that.

Undoubtedly Sen did not disappoint me there. He dared to portray Madhuri pouncing, slicing, stabbing men but those were really not her bright or awe moments in the film. The cool stare, the subtle nods, the soft commanding tone, the mellowed look on her face during her exchanges with Juhi – actually hints at Sen’s potential as a director to extract those nuances and expressions from the seasoned actress rather than giving her a mouthful of dialogues, got her trained in rare martial art forms rather than count on her grace and dancing abilities alone.

I specially liked Rajjo’s (Madhuri) silent exit from the electricity office followed by the aerial view of women clad in pink sarees walking towards the office to seal its doors and windows with men inside and Rajjo relaxing in a field nearby waiting for the outcome – Power. Her calm, sarcastic response when she was lured to join Sumitra Devi’s party – Sanghatan mein shakti hain. Akele mein phat thi hain – kind of hints at her acting prowess with bare minimum words. And each time she rolled a glass of cold water on her face – Gala sookh raha hain – we are convinced there is much more yet to be tapped from this talented lady and appreciate Sen’s attempt to go beyond just grace, smiles, looks of Madhuri.

Juhi as the antogonist Sumitra Devi, was a pleasant surprise. Again kudos to Director-Producer duo to think so creatively of this role for her – her sweetness and smile can be so venomous was actually beyond my imagination. This film, because of her characterization and excellent delivery shall remain proof that an artist’s true potential depend much on the director who can see far from what is apparent. Throughout the movie Juhi’s smile was intact beautifully molded with her expressions, even while saying – “Rape ka kya rate chal raha aaj kal Sharmaji” – such a contrast from the usual film Netas.

I have watched Tannishtha Chatterjee in Shadows of time and Brick lane and right from the first shot of her suicide attempt in GG, I liked her natural, next door, simple look – a believable character.

The only thing I missed was – A school teacher, a leader or sorts, cannot possibly be breeding a culture and belief system “Rod is God” – a flaw in plotting, dialogues, script or character – I am unable to pin point – one of the GG members could well use “Rod is God” and get away – not someone who is fighting for education. Rajjo’s soft reaction after receiving funds to build the school finally, made me soft on my senses too.

I used the word “provoked” to write this review because it is only after I watched the movie I read the reviews – One dimensional thinking from the Cinema Gurus, the respected lot whose opinion matter – I was almost shocked that an honest effort like this was dwarfed. Never mind, at least a Sen and a Sinha is trying to change our taste and expectations gradually – some of us still have the attention span of a rat. Sorry Rats!

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