Reviewing the Reviews: Barely two stars for Gulaab Gang

10 Mar,2014

By Deepa Gahlot


Gulab Gang

Directed by: Soumik Sen

Starring: Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla, others


Much was expected from the inspired by real life story of a female vigilante. Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla together for the first time, a lot of promotion, some controversy (Sampat Pal of Gulabi Gang trying to stall the film) and at the end of it a damp squib of a film.


The week’s other release Queen opened to universal acclaim but Gulaab Gang could barely manage two star ratings.


Shubhra Gupta of the Indian Express ripped it apart. “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.”


Nandini Ramnath of Mint commented, “For all its feminist fakery, Gulaab Gang‘s villains are women. First off is Rajjo’s evil step-mother, plucked straight out of a ’50s movie. The bigger threat is posed by Chawla’s all-powerful politician Sumitra, modelled onSonia Gandhi, Mayawati, Sheila Dixit, and every other woman who has ever dared to storm the male bastion of Indian politics. Sumitra’s villainy is straight out of a Telugu mass movie…”


Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN called it muddled and forgettable. “Madhuri 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.”


Anupama Chopra of Hindustan Times called it messy and illogical. “In Gulaab Gang, writer-director Soumik Sen brings together a slew of talented women – Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Juhi Chawla, Divya Jagdale, Tannishtha Chatterjee. He lifts liberally from the inspiring story of Sampat Pal, an illiterate villager who formed a group of women vigilantes called Gulabi Gang in Bundelkhand. But Sen is unable to embed the actresses into his fictionalised version in a coherent way. The result is an ineffectual and messy ode to women empowerment in which women, with nicely styled hair and handloom saris, maim, kill, fight elections and in between find the time to sing and dance.”


Suhani Singh of India Today commented, “It doesn’t take long to realise that Gulaab Gang has adopted a familiar route. A wrong is committed. There’s the search for justice. It is achieved with fierce fighting. And then there’s a song to celebrate the good times. Just when it ends, you are back to the hardship in the form of death of a gang member or oppression/crime. The screenplay is stuffed with lines written to draw whistles. We don’t know if rhyming declarations like “Rod is God” work with the audiences, but the effort is more than apparent when Dixit says, “Sangathan ki chalti hai, akele mein aapki phatti hai.”


Shubha Shetty Saha of mid-day found is as fake as a pink elephant.”The best thing about cinema as a medium is that you get to know the filmmaker’s intention and mindset, no matter what garb the film is presented in or what the filmmaker wants you to believe. Gulaab Gang might look like a feminist film but unfortunately, it is anything but one. For one, a film made with even an ounce of sensitivity towards women would never feature a cringe-inducing scene of a man crawling between the legs of a woman. Or a scene where Rajjo seethes with anger at an injustice being committed and soon after, shakes her graceful hip to a random song. Well, all this and more happen in Gulaab Gang.”


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