When the original Gulabi Gang leader, Sampat Pal took Anubhav Sinha’s film, Gulaab Gang to court, the makers said that the film is not based on her. That’s quite true. Only the title is similar minus an ‘I’. Plus the pink saree is a 6-yard sham.
Rest is Bollywood bunkum as unbelievable as a politician’s election speech.
The film is a disgusting mish mash of pink sarees, awkward fight scenes with warrior women using laathi, sickles and axes, loud, dramatic dialoguebaazi cashing in shamelessly on to two yesteryear, ravishing Yash Chopra heroines.
When Rajjo(Madhuri Dixit) was a little girl, nothing could drag her away from the Madhopur village school and her books. Not even her mother’s relentless beatings. She grows up to be a leader of a gang of women who fight for the helpless. These include a victim of domestic violence (Tannishta Chatterjee, suitably natural) who is converted into becoming a ‘gulaabi’.
When the village collector shuts down the electricity until he is paid a bribe, the gang of women round up his office and lock him up inside until the electricity is back. It is another matter that Rajjo is not shown as Rajjo, the feisty and crude gang leader but as the sexy and sometimes dignified Madhuri Dixit who dances around bonfires in a pink cotton sari and low back blouse with her gang of manicured women. Even when she teaches school kids, they want to recite ek do teen, to which she gives that knowing, secretive smile of the young ‘Tezaab’ girl who stole millions of hearts with her dance to a numerical song.
Thankfully, things get better the moment, her opponent; Sumitra Devi (Juhi Chawla) walks in and how. Her lips constantly curved in a half manipulative, half sweet smile, she arrives at the village to gather votes. In one well orchestrated scene in the otherwise badly directed film, a defining moment of Rajjo’s power over Sumitra’s is shown nicely when Sumitra stands with folded hands, waiting for cheers from the crowd who are silent for a moment until Rajjo walks past and they start cheering for her.
Juhi shines in her moment of no glory. Every time she is on screen, her impeccable dialogue delivery is a delightful surprise, especially when she starts on a honey dripping tone with “prem ka matlab samajhte hain aap?” and then snarls,”GHANTA samajhte hain.”If only she had cut down on her lip chewing in an attempt to look malicious.
Madhuri manages to hold her own when she has her moments, very much in keeping with Prakash Jha school of dialogues. She pulls off lines like “sangathan main shakti hai, akele main aapki phat ti hai” like a pro. However, she is made to run like a wild hunter and jump off vehicle tops with an axe in hand and a killer look on her face a la Goddess Durga . It is a marvel that she agreed to do it.
Much more fabulous actor power is seen amongst the gang of women like Divya Jagdale, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Priyanka Bose who obviously relish their meaty roles. Ms Dixit could have borrowed some tips on body language from them.
While the film is rightfully as violent in places, it turns downright gross when Juhi Chawla orders a woman staffer to lift her sari so that a man has to crawl through. Is this the producer and director’s idea of women empowerment?
What could have been a hot pink drama of woman power amongst the casting coup of the year, unfortunately, is a dirty pink embarrassment, soiled by very bad direction by Soumik Sen.
Celebrating Women’s Day with Gulaab Gang is not recommended at all.