Dashaka Films P. Ltd.'s GAJA GAMINI is a metaphor for the journey of a woman called Gaj Gamini, who is suspended in time and space along with a spectrum of characters taken from art, history, music and poetry. These characters, who voice the aesthetics of feminine beauty, act as points of reference and are in constant dialogue with each other on the essence and identity of a woman. The characters range from Noorbibi of Satara -- a symbol of stability, Shakuntala -- the black princess conceived in the poetry of the great Kalidaas, Monica-- the boat woman, searching for existential love, Phoolwania -- the flower girl, with a red band tied across her forehead, a symbol of her slain husband, and many more characters.
Along with these women she consolidates the power/shakti of womankind in a man's world.
The film is an operatic ballet, punctuated with colours and music, which keeps oscillating between illusion and reality. It could even be called a journey through the eyes of a painter, M.F. Hussain.
From the very first frame of the film, you get the feeling of witnessing an unusual film, which does not confirm to the conventional mould of film-making. As a painter, M.F. Hussain has successfully managed to portray the various shades of a woman's emotions, but needless to add there is vast difference between painting on paper and making something on the silver screen.
The director has tried to convey his ideas through various shapes, interspersed with colour and music. But it will be difficult for the masses or even the classes to interpret Hussain's ideas. In fact, what prompted Hussain to attempt a film like this, will remain a big question.
The film has a very colourful look, with the visuals being eye-catching. But as a director, Hussain fails to convey his thoughts on celluloid. Musically, the film has only one song which is hummable, 'Do Sadiyan', that is picturised on Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit. The remaining numbers are of the 'fast-forward' category. The choreography (Saroj Khan) of all songs deserves special mention.
Madhuri Dixit is awesome in a role that was possible for an accomplished performer like her. She looks gorgeous throughout and is especially remarkable in the scene where she dances between a guitar and tabla. She conveys a lot through her expressions as well as her eyes. Naseeruddin Shah is alright. Shabana Azmi has nothing much to do. Shilpa Shirodkar is okay. Inder Kumar is expressionless. Shah Rukh Khan comes as a whiff of fresh air and his brief role is thoroughly enjoyable. Mohan Agashe, Ashish Vidyarthi, Kalpana Pandit and Raeesa Husain lend adequate support.
On the whole, GAJA GAMINI is an artistic film which will not be understood by any strata of audience -- classes or masses. Business-wise, the film is sure to spell disaster. A waste of precious celluloid.