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Saturday, March 08, 2014

Gulaab Gang 


What A Waste


There is a scene in Soumik Sen’s Gulaab Gang, in which a female politician wants to humiliate a minion, and makes him crawl between the legs of a woman, who stoically lifts her sari and spreads her legs—makes you wonder just who is being humiliated here and why. In another scene, a bunch of vigilante women want to punish a man, so they make him wear a sari and dance, underlining the common notion that there’s no worse insult for a man than to be called a woman. So how come this film dares to say that it espouses the cause of women?

The film does take its idea of a gang of pink sari clad women from Sampat Pal’s much documented and feted Gulabi Gang (see Nishtha Jain’s superb documentary released last month), but then goes on to make complete hash of it.

 Sen’s film has no sense of the region, the problems of rural women or even how the system functions in the vast Indian mofussil belt. All he does is collect a gang of women in pink homespun saris led by Rajjo (Madhuri Dixit) in low-backed ikat blouse, break into dance or get into totally unbelievable action sequences.

Just who is this Rajjo (there is a clumsy flashback about a kid determined to study and her nasty stepmother torturing her) and what she is all about, you never know. Why this woman who is not even known to the collector of the region is such a threat to an all-powerful politician Sumitra (Juhi Chawla, dressed like Sushma Swaraj) is not clear either.

Once in a while a woman is battered, raped or killed, the man is attacked by the Gang (Chatterjee, Divya Jagdale, Priyanka Bose, etc) and elsewhere, Sumitra sneers or snaps at her cowering followers.  There is not much plot, no character development, and certainly no social comment.

Juhi Chawla steals every scene she is in, while Madhuri Dixit struggles with an ill-defined role; her only brief seems to have been “be a heroine” so she wears an ‘R’ shaped bindi, lots of kohl, sets her hair in waves and has a kid pay tribute to her stardom by humming “Ek Do Teen.”  The best bits of this film are in the promos—that’s all there is to it.




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