Gulaal – The Fringe Bollywood

I am an unabashed fan of Anurag Kashyap. I guess I’m one of the few who believes Black Friday is his sleepwalking film, and weakest, and that No Smoking is his best film. And yet, I did not watch Gulaal for a long time. Big mistake.

Set in Rajasthan, this is another Kashyap masterpiece, although it (understandable – as even though it released just after Dev D, it predates all his released movies, in terms of production, and is raw) lacks the finesse of some of his later work. But that’s more than made up by the sheer display of brilliance.

1. Music: Haunting music. Taken outside the movie it probably cannot stand like Dev D or Black Friday music, but in the context of movie, it works wonders. Especially haunting is “O Ri Duniya”. And the way it is used is typical Kashyap brilliance on that front.

2. Performances: Kay Kay delivers as he’s probably expected to. But Deepak Dobriyal (Bollywood is a graveyard of such immensely talented actors, with zero personality), Piyush Mishra (who also happens to be responsible for all that music, also plays a blinder of sorts, only this ain’t cricket), Abhimanyu Singh (what a bearing!), all stun you. Mahie Gill, Aditya Srivastava, and Pankaj Jha also leave a mark. To think that all these cameos were stuck in the stupid Indian sensor jail for years!

3. The treatment: Raw, and brilliant. Excellent pace, and yet engaging. Only No Smoking among his other films was more difficult a movie to make. But Kashyap’s brilliance is stamped all over this film — albeit, as I already said, lacking fineness.

4. Story: Offbeat and powerful, dark, and stark. This is noir movie without the customary dark scenes, replaced with liberal use of colors — as the name suggest.

All in all, it surely belongs to the best of his films. As with No Smoking, which could not lift the weight of expectations that came after Black Friday, Gulaal suffered due to tactical mistake of releasing it after Dev D. Both Black Friday and Dev D are mainstream Bollywood movies. Okay, not Black Friday per se, but even that is very consumable, and people tend to like what they can ‘easily digest’. And when they get it, they expect it every time.

Bollywood mainstream is moving into ‘cannot fail because it’s too big’ zone, and so it’s left to these smaller/medium budget projects to experiment and take cinematic experience to hitherto unexplored areas, at the risk of failing. Sadly, the risk is all too real, because frankly, Indian movie watching public want refined carbohydrates.Everything else is a #fail.

“rago me daudate phirne ke hum nahi kayal”

Oh well we are.

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3 thoughts on “Gulaal – The Fringe Bollywood

  1. I haven’t seen this movie but I put it on my must see list. I am a big fan of Anurag Kashyap. I actually enjoy that his films are somewhat dark and touching upon our fears. No Smoking was a courageously surrealistic movie, something we haven’t seen in Bollywood movies so far. Dev D was a powerhouse in terms of performances and execution. He is one phenomenal filmmaker.

  2. I am an unabashed fan of Anurag Kashyap. I guess I’m one of the few who believes Black Friday is his sleepwalking film, and weakest, and that No Smoking is his best film. Ditto. Until Gulaal.

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