When bubbly turned ugly, and 'dhak dhak' came the punches

When bubbly turned ugly, and 'dhak dhak' came the punches

Gulaab Gang 

Hindi (U/A) ***

Director: Soumik Sen

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

In a recent interview, Juhi Chawla had joked that she and Madhuri Dixit were responsible for the Khan brigade’s successes. With Gulaab Gang, the duo proved that this may actually be the case.

Two heartthrobs, who never came face to face in their heydays, have managed to deliver a film the viewer gets so involved in that people would hardly leave the hall till the end credits stop rolling!

However, the credit must go more to Juhi than Madhuri whose delicious negative turn as politician Sumitra Bagrecha, which she seems to relish her way through, is more memorable than the message of women’s empowerment that Madhuri’s village belle-turned-activist Rajjo tries to deliver.

Sumitra’s displeasure at the small things, like being addressed without the honorific “Devi” or when attempting to quell dissent, and her subsequent shaming of the errant, are stuff that many an actor can only dream of pulling off!

The story is no novelty to those who have watched the trailer, or even heard the synopsis. Rajjo runs a “gang” consisting of women who have been wronged – be it by their family or society. The gang, in turn, helps fight against social evils, besides providing its members sustenance, education and livelihood. The members also find time to break into jigs whenever they feel like it, and maybe once or twice too often.

They are pitted against politician Sumitra Devi, who, “widowed” under mysterious circumstances, wants to leave no stone unturned to not only win Assembly elections but reach the “Centre”.

The resulting clash has been played out too often on the silver screen, but rarely have the two players been women who will stop at (nearly) nothing to chance. Supporting each is a strong cast of characters, and they make the most of a story, screenplay and direction that promise to blow your mind.

Sadly, the mind is far from blown as one exits the theatre. From actors frequently slipping in and out of their accent to a number of loose ends that could have resulted in a massively gratifying curtain call, debutant director Soumik Sen loses the plot sometime in the second half. Even the contrivance in the women’s fight sequences in an otherwise (mostly) realistic film rankle. And barring the title song, even the music is a letdown.

Nevertheless, Sen deserves kudos for delivering an International Woman’s Day treat, which you go in to watch rooting for Rajjo, but come out with Sumitra... err, Sumitra Devi on your mind.

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