5 Excellent


Anurag Kashyap rightly said that ‘Gulaal’ is his most angry film yet. 8 years in the making, Gulaal lacked salability due to its lack of stars, bold and convoluted story and the controversy surrounding Kashyap’s initial works – ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Paanch’. But here it is now, what can be touted as his best work till date, the film that relates to today’s India with the ambitions of the pragmatic youth confronting the deceptive, greedy and zealous hypocrites who breed malice and violence in the name of deeply rooted values. This engaging battle has been brilliantly crafted by Kashyap with an exhaustive script and screenplay that not only amplify a convoluted plot but do justice to the multitude of highly talented actors. Mind you….. ‘Actors’, and not heroes. But even more than these essential elements is the contribution of one man whose soul stirring lyrics, beautiful compositions, didactic and engaging dialogues and an awesome performance in a supporting role move you if not enchant you. Piyush Mishra, who was so far a theatre actor in Delhi is thus a revelation of astounding talents.

Gulaal is a socio-political drama about the President of the Rajputana community who is uniting his people against the injustice that has been inflicted upon them over the years by the government of the very democracy that their ancestors had once fought to gain. Dukey Bana (Kay Kay Menon) is a powerful icon among the Rajputs who strives to bring a new student in law college, Dileep Singh (Raj Singh Chaudhary) at the helm of college politics. Dileep has just walked into this lawless world of autocratic cruelty that has no mercy for the weak or innocent and thus begins his study of law. Dileep, being the righteous individual who does not share the vision of Bana and his supporters is often caught in an emotional turmoil when he wants to be rebellious, but the power in the hands of the mighty tend to vanquish every uprising against them and so he battles his own cowardice and naivety among the radicals.

Some vital characters form the true essence of the film’s plot that revolves around love, betrayal, politics, deception, greed, hypocrisy and of course, the ultimate fight to gain power. Supporting this endeavor are Deepak Dobriyal, Abhimanyu Singh, Aditya Shrivastava, Mahie Gill and Ayesha Mohan in well etched out characters. Kay Kay Menon is at his wicked best but with reserved intensity that goes full blast during his speeches or confrontations with his brother or Dileep. Knowing how good an actor he is, one can easily get so used to his screen presence that failure to notice the towering performance would be understandable. Raj Singh Chaudhary has been around in small roles but this film will slingshot him to recognition if not stardom for his natural ability to portray himself as the innocent and vulnerable Dileep Singh whose journey through the tyrannies of cruelty, violence, betrayal and hypocrisy elevate him to becoming an uncompromising individual. Piyush Mishra’s character is the film’s poetic narrator. His presence on screen is less cinematic and more theatrical and the distinction is evident when comparing with the rest. Apart from being the song writer, music director and singer for Gulaal, Piyush Mishra is also the dialogue writer and wisely has he kept the best ones for his part. In fact, every time Prithvi Bana comes on screen, his dialogue and message have a deeper connotation which will make you think for days. Listen intently to ‘Sarforishi ki tamanna’ being adapted to current times as he calls upon Bismil to take a look at today’s state of affairs. Watch him mimic Dukey Bana’s mission to claim the state of ‘Rajputana’ while also denouncing the plan while singing ‘sale hai! Sale hai!’ and then giving his ideas about symbolizing unity instead of what everyone has done by applying Gulaal on their faces….. These are powerful scenes that have exemplary direction, screenplay and dialogue with equally astounding performances.

The film’s music is par excellence. Seldom have we seen or heard songs so timely in the screenplay, so soulful in meaning and so rich in language. ‘Beeda’ is classic folklore sung so well by Rekha Bhardwaj. ‘Aaarambh hai prachand’ is a song denoting a strong initiation and so it very much is in the story as the entire election campaign in the college is executed during the song which gives us a deeper insight into battle and victory. ‘Shehar’ is perhaps the film’s best song with its lyrics flowing through every scene that it runs with. The evil times in the city could not have a better narration. Piyush Mishra’s all-round deliverance in this song with Anurag’s execution of the screenplay makes this song a spectacle in itself. The hilarious ‘Ranaji’ teases with references to international terror acts. Shilpa Rao’s mesmerizing rendition of ‘Aisi saza’ is truly representative of the emotions after betrayal. ‘Yaara Maula’ is a deep, soul stirring composition of evil taking over innocence in its most vulnerable state. Once again, the story leaps forward with the simple play of lyrics that translate the emotional turmoil. The movie ends with ‘Duniya’, the epitome of Piyush Mishra’s talent showcase. ‘Yeh Duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai’ sums up what the movie had to say. The final scenes shall give you the chills with the outstanding lyrics playing for the conclusion – Manzil yeh kehti tab insaan se ki tumhari hai tum hi sambhalo yeh duniya.
Gulaal is a very impressive piece of cinema that will be cherished by only a few due to its unconventional story telling. It is a dark and evil tale of India itself. As we progress in these times with our ambitious goals, we are often obstructed by our culture, history and orthodox values and Gulaal shows us a shockingly real picture of that confrontation. It is time we adopt this kind of cinema with the richness that it has in its script, screenplay, lyrics, dialogues, performances and Anurag Kashyap’s relentless pursuit of his vision.

- 9.34 on a scale of 1-10.