Review of Gulaal  

Posted by Vee

Prior to Gulaal, if debate over any movie ever heated-up, I appeased the situation by saying, “Chill, it’s just a movie.” I did it for Slumdog and Dev.D. However, I will not do the same for Gulaal. It’s not just a movie for me. Gulaal is what India is currently. Gulaal is what we all are. We all are somehow part of this system. Gulaal has taken Indian cinema many notches higher and Anurag has established himself as a farsighted filmmaker.

There can be many disclaimers for Gulaal. Do not watch it with Anurag-DevD impinged on your mind; watch it with intact brain. The older the wine, the better it tastes. And so it is with Gulaal that was in making for 7 years since 2001.Censor ate it the way they did Anurag’s debut Paanch that never got released. Gulaal, in Anurag’s own words, is his angriest film.

Plot: The opening sequence of Gulal has Dukey Bana, an aspirant of ‘Rajputana’ (separate state for Rajputs of Rajasthan) addressing a huge gathering where everyone has their faces smeared with red Gulaal. His impassioned words supposedly leave a mark on all attendants except one man.


Dileep Singh, a 28-year-old bespectacled, oil-combed hair, docile young man accompanied with his caretaker Bhanwar Singh comes to Rajpur to study law. His roommate Rananjay is stark opposite. Called ‘Ransa’, Rananjay lives a lavish life of self-indulgence in wine, women and weed. Ransa, who is son of His-Highness, has defied his father, wealth and has a vision of his own. Ransa readily takes Dileep under his fold and tags him along.

Dileep is ragged and thrown naked in a dark room where young lady teacher Anuja (Jesse Randhawa) was already ragged and thrown in. Ransa gets furious at this and instills courage in Dileep and together they go to take revenge. They both fall prey. Bhaati, the right-hand of Dukey Bana approaches the duo and takes them to Dukey Bana for help. Dukey asks Ransa to contest the college elections for the post of General Secretary. But fate had something else written.

Enter bastard duo of brother-sister (Karan-Kiran). They are illegitimate children of His Highness and Ransa is their half-brother. Kiran is Ransa’s competitor for GS post. Karan kidnaps Ransa, kills him and hangs him at the chauraha. Dukey now makes Dileep stand-in for election against Kiran. Dileep wins the election, aided by Dukey’s maneuvers.

Dileep is then enticed by Kiran who asks him for the post of Cultural Secretary. Their affair changes the lives of each and every character where people get killed, dumped and the bastards survive.


Dileep (Raj Singh Choudhary, also co-writer of the film) is a soft-spoken and humble Rajput. His passive behavior is often made fun of; ‘Kaye ka Rajput be’. Teetotaler Dileep, who when refuses the drink offered by his room-mate Ransa (‘Legaa?’), is snapped with ‘Toh kya meri Legaa’.

Kiran, comes to him after he wins; and allures him into an affair with her charm. Soon she is seen looking straight into him with passion-filled eyes after an adoring sex. The innocent boy he was, he takes it to be true love. He goes onto a killing spree when confronted with the fact that she was just using him. Is he a loser? I do not see him as a loser. What was his mistake? He had just come to study. He acknowledges that he is ‘Darpok’ and ‘Fattoo’. Was he a loser for believing in love? Who would not? She blames him for making her pregnant. And this after she clearly tells him in beginning she doesn’t ever want to. Then what the hell she was thinking? Is only a man to be blamed?

Ransa (Abhimanyu Singh), a Rajput by blood and legacy, Ransa has everything but he defies everything and lives life at his own terms. Most honest and the blunt of lot. He is man with several questions. Just as a common man who has questions that never get answered in our country. He might not be a puritan but he is not a hypocrite either. He gets the best lines. When his bastard half-brother kidnaps him and asks him to withdraw from the election, he retorts, “Agar tere baap ne sahi time pe withdraw kar liya hota toh tu najayaz nahi hota”. He is rough but he is sensitive enough to take on anyone who insults his gentle room-mate. A His-Highness in making, he has no qualms in throwing everything and rebelling against the corruption. He is a man of his words and action.

Dukey Bana (Kay Kay Menon) is a rebel who hopes for a separate state for Rajputs. Kay Kay in one of his most restrained act ignites the whole movie. He is unethical and his stand is not much justifiable. Yet his blood-boiling performance as impulsive Rajput scripts his finest performance ever. We have many fanatics like him who are hell bent on a separate state for whimsical reasons they themselves make up.

Rest of the cast can be termed more than the supporting; Deepak Dobriyal (Bhaati) who won critical acclaim for his Omkara act comes with another stellar performance. He is not just another right hand to Dukey Bana. He has his own ways with him, ridicules him when at fault. He conveys more through his body than the words. The scene at the paanwaala, where Bhati just nods his head, raises eyebrows, makes other facial expressions to answer questions while chewing paan. A restrained yet powerful performance without uttering a single word.

Karan (Aditya Srivastava) manipulates everyone (including his own sister Kiran). He is ruthless beyond thoughts and has just one purpose; to become the senapati, which will automatically get him the surname of His Highness.

Prithvi Bana (Piyush Mishra) is foreign studied, Lennon-Bhakt elder brother of Dukey Bana and has an escort (Ardh-Nari). The duo leaves no chance to make fun of the happenings around including Dukey’s irrational demand of Rajputana. Piyush excels in all the four roles (Actor, Lyricist, Composer and Singer) with his soulful lyrics and mind-fuck compositions.

The Ladies: Anuja (Jesse Randhwa) who we all knew as a Bikini Model is the real surprise. Anuja leaves an impact while playing the role of a teacher who gets ragged by the students, though she doesn’t have much dialogue. Her close-ups with grim-stricken eyes camouflaged with the cigarette smoke tell us more than the few words she spoke throughout. Madhuri (Mahie Gill) whose actual debut is Gulaal (and not Dev.D) is a patakha. On one hand, her thoomkas will make you mad and on the other, you feel sorry for her portrayal as a dejected lover (of Dukey Bana). Mahie has a striking resemblance to Tabu and same is emphasized quite repeatedly. Kiran (Ayesha Mohan), a bastard-turned-bitch is director’s delight. How well a man can be fooled by a woman’s innocent face has never been shown better. She jumps from one man to other to get her work done; hardly realizing her own brother was using her. The last scene, where Karan takes over as Senapati, has Kiran standing in the army below with silent tears rolling down her cheek. Even that doesn’t fill my heart with any sympathy for her.

Amidst all this is Mishra’s compelling lyrics and affecting music. From an anthem like ‘Aarambh’ to political ‘Ranaji’, Mishra creates a setting parallel to the plot.
Sample these:

“Jis kavi ki kalpana mein
Zindagi ho prem geet
Us kavi ko aaj tum nakaar do”

“Sunsaan gali ke nukkad par jo koi kutta cheeckh cheekh kar rota hai
Jab lamp post ki gandli peeli ghupp roshni mein kuch kuch sa hota hai
Jab koi saaya khud ko thoda bacha bachakar ghum saayon mein khota hai
Jab pul ke khambo ko gaadi ka garam ujaala dheeme dheeme dhota hai
Tab sheher hamaara sota hai”

"Surmayi aankhon ke pyaalon ki duniya
Satrangi rangon gulaalon ki duniya..o duniya
Alsaayi sezon ke phoolon ki duniya
Angdaai tode kabootar ki duniya
Karwat le soyi haqueeqat ki duniya
Deewaani hoti tabeeyat ki duniya
Khwahish mein lipti zaroorat ki duniya
Insaan ke sapno ki neeyat ki duniya..O Duniya
Ye duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai"

Anurag says this is his best piece. On the other hand, I feel his movies are exceptional and each one is a cinema par excellence. The year so far has been a delight for cine-maniacs and the craving has just started. Bring them on. Next such could be Vishal's KAMINEY.

This entry was posted on Monday, March 23, 2009 and is filed under , . You can leave a response and follow any responses to this entry through the Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom) .

39 Pointless but Viscous Comments.

I am sure that you know the dialogues by heart by now....

I liked the prologue of the review...I felt the same way for RDB and the movie has the capacity to move me to tears even now..I realised it this saturday...

I want to see this one but my Hubby doesn't sigh!!! so waiting for the CD/ DVD or may be it will come on TV....

Skipped the story part...but tell me how come no mention of Mahi Gill??? Or have I missed it?? If am not wrong she is getting rave reviews for it....

@Smita, Yes Yes, not all but yes quite a few. Arrey yaar chuck hubby and go for it. It's worth watching in theater. Do not wait for the DVDs. And yes, I missed Mahie's mention which I have included. Thanks.

@Reema, Kya be?


Was wondering, what's with you? It took you so long to get to the review and I heard, you watched it 5 times??? phew. Some fan you are...

Btw, there's somthing wrong with UAE. They don't like Anurag Kashyap movies. That is why, neither DevD nor Gulaal has been released here...

I've skipped the story part of the review but going by your introduction, I know what to expect. Am eagerly waiting for DVD now or maybe a late release.

@Rakesh, I saw it 3 times. I saw Dev.D 5 times. I started writing it after second viewing but then stopped and then started again after third view and then weekend came. So, u know.. hehehe.

Yes, that's quite strange for Anurag's movies. He is losing out on many audiences.

Do catch it any which ways.

Gulaal isnt released here in Chennai. Quite surprising, because last weeks releases like Aloo Chat, Barah Aana made it to the theatres, but Gulaal didnt.

Have to catch it on a DVD, no other choice for me. Will come back here to comment after watching the movie.


And Vee, what's with this "Bhai" suffix to my name on your blog list? he he... Has it something to do with the fact that I'm from Dubai? :P

Sorry to disappoint but i don't have Dawood's number yet...

@Vimmuuu Boy, This is really crazy. Do catch it on DVD.

I saw Aloo Chaat (funny at places), and Videsh (an ok watch). Priety was awesome.

@Rakesh, Lol... that was more to do with 'brother from another mother' stuff than Dubai...Kaho toh hata dun ;)


Nahi nahin, rehne do... Waise bhi duniye mein aajkal bahut kam log "Bhai" bolte hain :)

Hmm quite a few strong characters. Will be back to this space after watching the movie.

The movie was shelved for 7 yrs? Plight the real cinemas hve to go thru.

Ya, 2009 is so far @ its best when it comes to movies.

@Rakesh, Lol. Deal.

@Shayari, It was a treat to watch those characters. Yes, for 7 long years.

Exactly, 'only' when it comes to movies...;)

I wasn't so impressed my Gulaal but it definitely is a good film. Kay Kay and Abhimanyu Singh were superb and so was Piyush Mishra's characterisation.

I'm more of a Vishal Bharadwaj fan. In my opinion, he is much more versatile as a filmmaker than Anurag Kashyap. I've loved every Vishal Bharadwaj film till date and his music! I still can't get over Omkara!

Nevertheless, Anurag and Vishal are doing Indian cinema proud.

Nice review by the way. Shows how much you loved Gulaal! :)

You know my views on Gulal :D

Piyush Mishra - is this his debut too? - is simply mindblowing. What lyrics.. what music..

You know about me and Abhimanyu - sigh.

The Kiran-Karan duo was quite chilling. One minute she is smiling happily and innocently at being given a new guitar string and other moment she is after Dileep so ruthlessly... whew...

I just lovvvvvvved the character of Abhimanyu and was heartbroken when he was killed off so early in the film. I understand its importance in the story, but the character was so fundoo.. I wish he could have stayed on somehow.

Anurag has stirred viewers up in ways which is quite unprecedented. REally .. Pehle DevD aur ab yeh !

@Bhargav, If you notice I have mentioned about Vishal's upcoming while ending review of Gulaal. For me, both of them work. Vishal is more versatile but Anurag's ingeniousness lies elsewhere. They both are genius.

Without offending you on your take on Omkara, If Gulaal had released on time (way before Omkara was released), Omkara would have suffered a bit (the way Gulaal is currently). They both have some similarity running parallel. Of course, Omkara was Othello told Indian way but the basic premise of both Gulaal and Omkara is same.

I have loved all the movies of Vishal. I am not much fan of children movie but Makdee and Blue Umbrella worked for me. And personally I rate his Maqbool above Omkara.

They both are doing us proud and I am hopeful of a brilliant cinema in 'Kaminey'.

@Ava, Yes, I know your absolute views on it. I know of your love for Abhimanyu and I can guess how dejected (actually) you would have felt when he died off within an hour into film.

Piyush made his debut (as actor) in Dil Se. Remember that police men. He played the role of 'Kaka' in Vishal's Maqbool. Before that he had been into theater and writing. Before Gulaal, he has written dialogue for 'The Legend of Bhagat Singh' and critically acclaimed 'Yahaan'. He wrote Madhuri's comeback song 'Aaja Nachle Nachle Mere Yaar Tu Nach Le' and Tashan's title song 'Dil Hara Re'. He is a multi-talented genius. You can guess so by now :)

Exactly, Anurag is a hope and thankfully Industry is realizing what that guy is worth

I'll watch the movie and come back to read fully. Should watch it with sub titles else I'll pester my husbd. for translation :(

As usual a great review from your end!!

Gulaal isn't released in Kochi. Hope to get a CD

Keep blogging!!

Hmm Trust you to jump to Dileep's defense. It is surprising to know that Gulaal hasnt released in so many places yet. I guess Anurag could release teh DVD soon.

@Smita: Abhi tak wahi gaana ga rahi ho..hubby nahi ja rahe..go with a girlfriend were talking about preying on WIAN :P

@Ava: Me too had liked RanSa and was a tad sad at his early demise (no matter how necessary it was to story). He ws foolish but yet a fun, hottie. :)

@BB, Do that or this or any other way, but do catch this movie.

@Biju, Thanks. Hmm, so Kochi also. Wonder why it did not get released at so many places.

@Poonam, And trust you to malign the poor Dileep's image. Such a nice innocent boy he was. Raham khao us par. And yea, even I am surprised but as per Anurag, he was more than happy to just complete the film, release ka load nahi liya. I saw his happiness when the last shot was canned. He screamed with joy. Literally screamed. Hmm, he should release the DVD soon. It will be sure shot hit on DVD circuit.

I have yet to watch this movie :(

Your review is superb as usual. I'll definitely watch this movie this weekend.

Will watch it at least for the patakha ;)

I still hv to watch it..BUt thats one hell of a review..

Ill be back.

And as for ur comment...Lucky u man. Seems everybody has won something or the other on Radio. Yep I agree..most of them sound similar these days.
And heyy, now now... don't start a fight with Smita... wot gives?

@Varun Bhai, Haha, do that before patakha goess fussss...Btw, I hope they r running it in PVR or other places as it's no longer running in Innovative.

@Anand, Do watch.

And for that comment, I guess whoever won anything on radio was/is the most vella person .. (I was, so I used to call them or sms them long ago)...


I think I will be watching it this weekend. I have been excited enough.
Dev D was a very different experience. Abhay Deol is coming out to be the best of the Deols.

@Amit, Wow, awesome. Do that and let me know how did it go for you?

Talking of Dev.D, Yups you are bang on. Abhay is a lot different than other Deols....


Long one!

But inspired already! Thanks. WIll try to catch it this weekend!


Finally !

Good to see you too mentioned the panwaala scene, it's definitely one of the best scenes of our times, its already having a cult like following.

Was expecting a hotter review from you, seems you controlled yourself a lot while writing this piece.

Gulaal songs are like Pink Floyd , growing with time. Yara Maula is a gem too, when the music changes. Piyush is one underrated genius for sure.

Along with Mahie Gill, Gulaal was Deepak Dobriyal's acting debut too. But Omkara released first and became his screen debut !

Btw, after your comment I edited the trivias in my review :)

Am waiting for the 3some next week- Aa Dekhen Zaara, Videsh and Ek, in that order.


@Alphabet, Do that. It's worth.

@UH, You are quite right when you said I could have been better. To be honest, I decided to give it up half-way through. I just could not. But then, was coaxed to finish it.

I will never forget that Paanwalla scene. It's etched for ever.

Enjoy your 3some. I saw Videsh already. I was expecting a lot, it did not work for me. However, for me it is Preity's finest.

@poonam, hamare khyalat bahut milte hain. if we get together we will paint the town red. Ransa ko dhoond nikalenge !

@Vee kya baat hai tumhe bada rahan aa raha hai Dileep pur, bechara Vimal

Ava hehe..I m game too. But Ransa must have already painted the town red by now. :P

This comment has been removed by the author.

Hi Vee, about my profession...let's jus' say I've been there..done that. :-)

When u comin up with a new post?


Vee I loved the movie, awesome, and again, Gulaal has taken Indian cinema many notches I specially was impressed with the climax for once the truth,


Hey man,

I didn't mean that the review wasn't good. It's just that my expectation was different and while reading I sensed some kind of 'reluctance' on the article..

I observed that you have written more on the story, which mostly would be skipped by people who are yet to watch it. If I remember your other movie reviews you tend to be more analytical and descriptive which creates a great subject for discussion.
Clearly, Gulaal is not for everyone.
So I have this tremendous urge to read more about it and discuss more about it. Unfortunately i don't have many people around me.

There can be a dedicated post for Gulaal dialouges itself.

'Mere Paas ma hai'
'tere liye bisleri ka kuwan khudya doon kya'
are two which was memorable.

Next time, try writing just after first watch.
Btw, I am yet to see Gulaal for second time :(


@Poonam, Dileep is Dileep. Tum nahi samjhogi.

@Anand, I just posted.

@Chirag, Glad to know you liked it too. And you said you liked ending which few did not agree to (you know who).. Anyways, it was a fab movie.

@UH, Need not be. You are quite bang on guessing that as I myself felt the same.

I started divulging the stories as quite a number asked for it. But, yes I need to be more careful. I did LBC differently but when it came to Gulaal and Dev.D I just could not say it any other way. Anyways, I will try to be analytical like before in future.

Of course, along with the ones mentioned by you, few others:

'Tu itna lamba hai, kisine roka nahi. Zaroor isme kanoon ka haath hai' and many more..

It deserves more than one watch for sure yaar. Try karo.

Finally, I saw it! Thanks to Torrent :)

Actually, after the first half hour of watching it on my laptop, I stopped and the next day after office, I stayed back late and watched it in the conference room on projector :)

YOu know, the movie has its moments, a lot of them. The movie has awesome characters. Ransa, Bhatti (especially the scene that you describe at the Panwalla) I was shell shocked when Ransa was killed coz. he seemed to be carrying the movie so well and killing such a character needs a lot of guts from the writer. I loved the presentation, the whole 'theatrish' feel of the movie. But somehow I was disappointed with the story.

It started off amazingly showing KK wanting a separate country for Rajputs but that line was not at all exploited. His end was not because of this but because of a crazy character who was hurt in love. The climax was such a disappointment coz. everything ended because one man's love was lost. And btw, Dileep's acting left a lot to be desired. At many places, his pathetic acting skills were shielded by Anurag's direction, editing, putting background music etc. And that Jesse Randhawa was such an explosive character - not at all exploited. Duki Bana's wife - dunno what she meant when she said 'Meine socha, mein bhi phod lun' on Diwali.

So I think great cinema but let down by poor story writing - especially later half. Too many tangents but none of them exploited fully except the love angle.

@Rakesh Bhai,

You know, there are some 4-5 people above who commented that they will get back after seeing but only you came back.:)

Now coming to Gulaal, Yes it has many moments, many. And it's the characters that make this memorable. I do not agree much when you say poor story writing. The guy who played Dileep is the story writer of this as well. He gave many (parallel) stories to us and kind of tried to blend them all. Yes, he did that. And I guess they were exploited in a way that 'Love' n hunger for power ruined everything. And that is why Dukey was killed and his ambition of getting a diff state was unfulfilled. And yes one man's love (faith in wrong person) changed everyone's life.

It is no doubt great cinema and what I feel what Anurag and writer showed us what they perceived the situation to be. You and me could have done it our own way. Now, I am not saying they are right. They could be. But as an audience we will always have our own prerogative to whatever we see and that is why we like something and do not like something.

Thanks for the comment bro after so long. Appreciate it.

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