Movie review Gulaab Gang: Drive into Madhuri Dixit's make-believe world

Written by Shubhra Gupta | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 10 2014, 19:00pm hrs
Gulaab GangMadhuri Dixit?s 'Gulab Gang' is actually the old-style good vs evil story...
Movie review: Gulaab Gang

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

Director: Soumik Sen

Rating: *

So fine, maybe Madhuri Dixits Gulaab Gang has nothing to do with Sampat Pals real-life Gulaabi Gang, even if both wear pink saris, and fight for womens 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 Dixis 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 doesnt amount to much.

Dixit doesnt 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 mens 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 subordinates legs: I dont 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

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