Brilliant ! Constantly surprising ! Hypnotically fascinating ! Welcome
to the Citizen Kane of Bollywood Film ! A Masterpiece !
I originally wrote this text in 2009 and as i've since
seen this revelation of a film many times, i will add some stuff when
re-writing it in October
2020. This film is so amazing, so powerful and so artistic that i rate
it among my Top 3 hindi films i've ever seen and maybe even as the No.
One of the best films this millennia - and world wide so. When watching
this film, many years in the making, detonate in 2009 not many viewers
in India saw it, and even less in the rest of the world, and Gulaal
seemed to be an eternal Cult film with a Cult following.
Now, in October 2020 this film still seems to be somewhat neglected
and considered a cult movie even though the western art movie crowd,
some of it, has taken notice. But, still Gulaal have not been released
in a high quality release on DVD or Blu-ray either in India or abroad.
A shame really and film buffs world wide craves it. All Anurag Kashyap
films, especially the early ones, should be available on blu-ray.
When re-writing this 2009 review in October 2nd 2020 Bollywood is crumbling
due to the Sushant Singh Rajput murder and Drug scandal
involving the biggest stars in the Mumbai tinsel film town, and my favourite
indian film director Anurag Kashyap has been interrogated by
the police due to Metoo accusation of him having sexually harassed an
actress. I do hope he's not guilty of the charges.
I have egoistic reasons for wanting him to be cleared of the accusation,
and that's that i want to see him making films for many years yet.
If he's to become shunned by the film industry it could actually lead
to a good thing .... does i sound awful now .... he would yet again
to make films without any budget. Yeaah, an angry and poor Anurag could
then yet again make something raw and exciting as "Gulaal".
The Masterpiece "Gulaal" was made during a period of many
years and without any budget and resulted in true genius indie power.
I first wrote about this film in 2009 when levitating
above my sofa after watching this powerhouse of a film:
Remember the name. Take notice. A volcano has exploded
in the Indian hindi film industry and the name is Anurag Kashyap,
director, script writer, producer and actor with films as Black Friday
and Dev D. as director and the scriptwriter of Satya and Water.
With this amazing film "Gulaal" the expectations for his future
films are raised high, very high. Will he ever make something as great
and is that even possible ?
Anurag Kashyap - he walks to his own drumbeat
Anurag Kashyap, yes, he could be a soul brother to international
director's as Kim Je-woon, Bong Joon-ho, russian indie master Aleksei
Balabanov or japanese Toshiaki Toyoda - perhaps. All of them idiosyncratic
director's and walking to their own drumbeat.
And, like an Orson Welles with his Mercury Theatre actors, Kashyap has
this phenomenal group of actors gathered around him, as Deepak
Dobriyal, Piyush Mishra, Mahie Gill, Kalki Koechlin, Huma Qureshi, Kay
Kay Menon and the Great Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Kay Kay Menon, a favourite of mine, manages all type
of roles (as a military, some threatening underling or being in a burlesque
and in "Gulaal" KKM has the role of his life as the rajput
Dukhi Bana. He's mindbogglingly GREAT and psychologically interesting
Bad Guy gangster boss but also as a man with a dream, a political separatist
and a Rajput with a "noble" family history within the union
princely states, Rajputana, and with separistic dreams about a free
Rajasthan. Kay Kay, one of the truly great actors of Bollywood along
with character actors as Irrfan Khan, Naseruddin Shah, Nawazuddin Siddiqui
and Sridevi. R.I.P. Irrfan and Sridevi.
The Great Kay Kay Menon
This film can't be missed by any film lover and it is
a certified Cult Movie today (when will western film companies start
to move their asses
and obtain a 35 mm copy for restoring and a release on Blu-ray) and
widely considered to be the peak of Kashyap's cinematic art .... yet.
After having a Super Hit and break-through with his 2012 epic gangster
saga "Gangs of Wasseypur" he left the indie outside to join
Bollywood inside and getting bigger budgets. But, unfortunately a big
budget seldom results in and means "better" films, and (my
is that Anurag never has made anything as great as "Gulaal"
since, even though films like the dark crime drama "Ugly"
and the TV series
"Sacred Games" has been very good.
Gulaal are a lot of things and a bit
hard to define, but it certainly is a somewhat experimental crime drama
and a chaotic universe in itself
with a fragmentary feverish and snappy style that doesn't resemble anything
i've ever seen in indian film before, and with a genius soundtrack
made by the great composer, singer and actor Piyush Mishra.
The images, the music, direction and editing and the finely tuned actors
Gulaal a hypnotically and fascinating whole. Every actor, every scene
and every song makes this film pure Perfection. Intense and powerful.
Ya-Ya-Ya, yes, YES, THIS IS IT and i really want this
film in a high quality edition and with lots and lots of extras where
Anurag and the
cast/crew talk about it. BUT, unfortunately "Gulaal" flopped
badly with the big mainstream indian audiences used to the Masala regular
fodder cranked out by Bollywood. However, it immediately also gained
devoted followers and it's status will surely only grow with time.
Gulaal - the story:
The tall and lanky, shy and bumbling student Dileep
(Raj Singh Chaudhary) arrives to the small (and fictious) town of Raipur
to begin his university law studies. Immediately hi's thrown into an
unreal nightmare world where he has a painful meeting with some rough
student faction led by Jadwal (Pankaj Jha) and experiences a really
brutal hazing bordering to torture.
His room-mate Ransa (Abhimanyu Shekhar Singh) is the son of the Maharaja
Mrityunjay Singh and he takes Dileep to a meeting with some
sort of a sect, a political clan or criminal gang lead by Dukhi Bana
(Kay Kay Menon) and his very peculiar brother Prithvi
(played by a magni-
ficent Piyush Mishra. Prithvi wearing a John Lennon
locket and companioned by an even more peculiar looking friend painted
in 2 colors,
like some Indian God or something, a figure with surely some sort of
significance that eludes me.
Mishra plays the role of a Greek chorus in this drama, commentating
the ongoings with his lines and his singing - music.
As soon as Bittu/Dileep arrives at the University he
enters a Bizarro world, and together we travel into the unknown, into
a power-play of
regional politics that's soon careening out of control.
There's an election coming up at the University and Dukhi Bana, the
leader of Rajputana (once a union of the princely states that ruled
area that became the state of Rajasthan), a patriotic separistic movement,
is looking for youths to join his battle for a free and independent
Rajasthan. Adding to this explosive potion are the illegitimate son
Karan (always fine Aditya Srivastav) and ditto daughter Kiran (Ayesha
Moshan), the latter some sort of a Femme fatale (and who in a scene
is singing Swedish forgotten one-hit wonder Emilia's 1999 super smash
hit "Big Big World"). Karan, a man with his own ambitions
and both of them filled with rage over the disrespect they've met due
standing in the Indian society.
We also have Dukhi Bana's faithful but more and more
worried henchman Bhati (played by the fantastic Deepak Dobriyal),
mistress the failed movie star Madhuri (also a very fine performance
if small part from the great Mahie Gill, born in 1975) the Punjabi actress
who also dance and sings in the movie) and finally the sad looking teacher
Anuja (Jessy Randhawa) who like Bittu/Dileep also have been
brutalized by Jadwal's gang.
Everyone shines in their parts, big or small, and the
script by Kashyap is brilliant with every role figure essential and
alive. Gulaal has an
intense Pulse and it draws you in and spit you out after 2 hours and
17 minutes emotionally drained. I levitated and felt punch-drunk at
same time, wow, that was something i did NOT expect from a Bollywood
film (an indie hindi).
The Eagle Home Entertainment DVD presented the film
in anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 with hindi audio 5.1 with english subtitles,
as i could see, with no disturbing film logo seen in some corner of
the screen. Kudos for that (perhaps out of respect for an important
in Indian film history ?) and thanks Eagle. Songs with english subtitles