Gulaab Gang Movie Review by Taran Adarsh


Check Out Gulaab Gang Movie Review by Taran Adarsh Starring Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla.

The much-talked-about, much-in-news, mired in controversy movie hits the screens in India. Finally!

A few weeks ago, a documentary called GULABI GANG released at select screens of India. Now Soumik Sen’s GULAAB GANG, which throws light on women dressed in pink saris, fighting against the injustice meted out to women in the heartland of India, opens at cineplexes after courting controversy. What also makes the film interesting is its interesting casting [and on-screen face-off] — Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Juhi Chawla.

Let’s enlighten you about the premise of GULAAB GANG, before I move ahead. Somewhere between vigilante and activist, a group of women takes up varied issues — domestic violence, dowry, rape, electricity, education, et al. The plot thickens when Rajjo [Madhuri Dixit-Nene], their leader, locks horns with a conniving and shrewd politician Sumitra [Juhi Chawla], who uses everyone to her advantage.

Although GULAAB GANG raises a strong voice against years of patriarchal pain and suffering — one might assume it tilts towards arthouse cinema — the fact of the matter is, Soumik presents the classic conflict between good and evil like any other masala film, replete with high-voltage drama, song-and-dance routine and of course, action sequences. This time, the protagonist as well as the antagonist are women, the story is set in the hinterland, the issues they tackle pertain to women… while men are merely peripheral characters here. Also, unlike some films set in the hinterland, Soumik abstains from using cuss words/colorful lingo to belittle the oppressors here.

GULAAB GANG sheds light on the plight of women in a particular region, but the message resonates beyond the boundaries of the region it attempts to illustrate. The screenplay packs a couple of nail-biting episodes, which skilfully highlights the vulnerability of women in rural India. The fight against merciless husbands, crooked politicians and government machinery and the conventional and regressive attitude comes across effectively on varied occasions. In short, a number of sequences sting with honesty!

However, you can’t turn a blind eye to the blemishes either. Not much happens in the first hour of GULAAB GANG [the writing lacks meat!], after Soumik introduces us to the pivotal characters. Lack of conflict or face-off is also one of the reasons why the first hour never really impresses. Also, Soumik could’ve avoided the usage of songs [the synchronized steps and the reference to ‘Ek Do Teen’ in a sequence look out of place], since the focus in a film like GULAAB GANG is on drama primarily. Fortunately, GULAAB GANG is back on tracks in the post-interval portions. The simmering tension between Madhuri and Juhi is captured wonderfully. Besides, a couple of dramatic sequences leave a hammer-strong impact. In addition, the chameleon-like opportunistic character of Juhi catches your eye in the second hour.

A big reason the film never feels contrived is its tremendous cast, especially Madhuri and Juhi. It’s a pleasure to watch Madhuri essay the role of Rajjo with flourish. In her three-decade-long career, the actress has worked in practically all genres of cinema, but GULAAB GANG gives her the platform to explore not just the dramatics, but action too. She enacts the part of a righteous woman with supreme understanding and deserves brownie points for a terrific portrayal. Matching Madhuri with a pitch-perfect portrayal is Juhi, who defiantly ventures into an alley she has never sauntered into in her career earlier. The actress displays the evil side without resorting to loud theatrics or attempting to overpower her co-star. You’d love to hate Juhi here, for she lives up to the character of a shrewd plotter and an acute schemer.

Other performances are finely pitched as well and topping the list is Divya Jagdale, who stays in your memory much after the screening has concluded. Priyanka Bose is first-rate. Tannishtha Chatterjee is wonderful.

On the whole, GULAAB GANG is well-intentioned with several powerful moments, especially towards the second half. The game of power and politics is well captured too. Additionally, the bravura performances of Madhuri and Juhi add immense weightage to the film. Watch it!

Rating: 3.5/5

  1. sputnik 8 years ago

    Gulaab Gang Indian Express Movie Review by Shubhra Gupta

    Cast: Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Divya Jagdale, Priyanka Bose
    Director: Soumik Sen

    So fine , maybe Madhuri Dixit’s ‘Gulaab Gang’ has nothing to do with Sampat Pal’s real-life ‘Gulaabi Gang’, even if both wear pink saris, and fight for women’s rights in a rural North Indian outpost. The difference between the two films ( and ‘Gulaabi Gang’ did the smart thing by releasing just ahead of the Bollywood take) is stark : the first , featuring the plain-faced Sampat, is a hard-hitting documentary ; Madhuri Dixi’s gang, on the other hand, is as make-believe as make-believe can get. ‘Gulaab Gang’ is faking it.

    Fearless Rajjo ( Dixit) runs a sort of a `gulabi gurukul’ in a village named Madhopur, where she teaches little girls their alphabets, and grown-up girls how to wield a `lathi’. Her ‘gang’ is made up of women wearing bright pink, and the ones closest to her are a ‘boy-cut’ tomboy type ( Jagdale), a woman abandoned by her husband ( Chatterjee), and a kohl-eyed dusky female( Bose). These ladies accessorize their pink with oxidized silver, and at least one them has a very spiffy manicure, as they go about standing up for the meek and the downtrodden, and going up against villainous husbands, cops and politicians.

    But from its opening frame you discover that in its supposed feminist garb, ‘Gulab Gang’ is actually the old-style good vs evil story, styled in the tired way these films have been for the longest time. Its chief baddie is, ta da, a woman. Sumitra Devi ( Chawla) is the sort of politician that men have played for ever : hungry for power, will stop at nothing, not even murder and mayhem. She rules with an iron fist and a sneer, and Chawla makes the most of her part, even if all the lip-chewing and narrowing-of-the-eyes doesn’t amount to much.

    Dixit doesn’t even rise above her pink sari-and-sickle, though you can see her trying her hardest with all the flying-through-the-air stunts, cleaving bad men’s clavicles, and so on. How can you take a film seriously when each bout of `lathi’-clashing is interspersed with group dances, with Rajjo-Rani doing the familiar Dixit` latkas’ and `jhatkas’? In a deeply offensive scene, Sumitra Devi makes a fellow crawl between her subordinate’s legs : I don’t know who cringed more– me, the viewer, or the two people who were in that scene, the woman who is ordered to spread her legs, and the man who is forced to crawl in between.

    How did Chawla stand for it?


  2. Ipman 8 years ago

    Rajeev Masand : 1.5/5 ‘Gulaab Gang’ review: The film is muddled and forgettable

    Cast: Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Divya Jagdale, Priyanka Bose

    Director: Soumik Sen

    In a key scene from Gulaab Gang, Madhuri Dixit’s Rajjo leads a group of women dressed in pink saris and wielding lathis, sickles and axes to descend upon a band of thugs who’re smuggling their village ration. Leaping through the air and pouncing on the men, they slice, stab and knock them out until every one of them has been vanquished.

    Much of Gulaab Gang unfolds in the same vein. Rajjo, who runs a school for little girls that alternates as a shelter for battered and abandoned women, is a strong advocate of violence as an instrument of justice. “Rod is God,” she proudly declares, as her avenging angels take on corrupt government officers, abusive husbands, and sleazy rapists.

    The plot kicks in when Rajjo takes on Juhi Chawla’s mean-spirited, power-hungry politician Sumitra, who we first meet as she’s ordering the suspension of a police officer who failed to bow before her. Cast against type, Juhi is terrific as the lip-biting, clove-chewing neta, who doesn’t once let her smile slip even while issuing threats and ordering killings. In a chilling scene, when it’s brought to her notice that the young man slated to marry her sister has raped a minor, she offers compensation, turning casually to her secretary and asking: “Aaj kal rape ka kya rate chal raha hai, Sharmaji?”

    Madhuri, on the other hand, makes the most of her stunt scenes, but appears trapped under the weight of this predictable script, which in the guise of a feminist film offers no more than your standard good vs evil story. It’s particularly hard to take Rajjo seriously when she breaks into choreographed dance sequences each time the women are taking a break from beating up some offender.

    A handful of scenes are nicely shot, like one in a lake, where a local politician’s rapist son finds himself surrounded by a few of Rajjo’s revenge-seeking gang members who emerge dramatically from under the water. There’s another bit where Rajjo and a few of her comrades (Vidya Jagdale and Priyanka Bose deserving special mention) share a light moment, bickering and joking among themselves. But such portions are few and far between in this dull film.

    Writer-director Soumik Sen and the film’s producers have insisted that Gulaab Gang is a work of pure fiction, and not based on Sampat Pal and the real Gulabi Gang in Bundelkhand, although the inspiration is too obvious to overlook. For an honest portrait of this vigilante women’s group and the work they do, seek out Nishtha Jain’s excellent documentary Gulabi Gang that released in select cinemas across India only two weeks ago.

    And if you must watch this film, watch it for Juhi Chawla’s inspired performance; it’s the only bright spot in Gulaab Gang. I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five. Muddled and forgettable.

    • Ipman 8 years ago

      “In a key scene from Gulaab Gang, Madhuri Dixit’s Rajjo leads a group of women dressed in pink saris and wielding lathis, sickles and axes to descend upon a band of thugs who’re smuggling their village ration. Leaping through the air and pouncing on the men, they slice, stab and knock them out until every one of them has been vanquished.”

      always knew this was a pathetic film right from the first promo

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