Director: Soumik Sen
Starring: Madhuri Dixit, Juhi Chawla
If one thing that Gulaab Gang does right it is its casting. It brings the two sensations of the 90's together and magic is created every time the two divas share screen space.
Debutante director Soumik Sen had a powerful script with which he could have done wonders if not for his desperation for making a commercial film. The movie oscillates between hard hitting mirror of the society and the Bollywood fantasy which Salman Khan flicks create these days. Sen brings the rustic feel to the film with élan and packs enough electrifying moments to keep the audiences hooked to the proceedings.
Gulab Gang has a take on every modern day issue. Much like Jai Ho in the recent past, the first half moves forward in an episodic fashion from one issue to another without much focus on the plot. But unlike the other movie, the sequences here are relevant and make you connect to the plight with no overt victimization of women or unnecessary fending of emotions.
The sequences in the electricity office and the first confrontation between Madhuri and Juhi are extremely well executed.
The fight sequence just before the interval culminates the half on a high note.
It is the second half when the writing feels directionless. The director has no idea if he wants to make a social drama or a revenge drama. There are many tracks which are abandoned in between and many sequences come and go just for the sake of it. The election track looks half baked and its leading to the climax is extremely forced and muddled. A better culmination to the story was the need of the hour. Scenes between Madhuri and Juhi keep the interest in this half alive.
As a movie, it had a powerful subject but finally fails to rise above the everyday Bollywood potboilers we see. But it is not to say that the film is a total washout. One wished that Soumik Sen had the courage to go all the way in the unconventional route he had started. All the impact he creates with his portrayal of real women taking charge and fighting injustice fizzles out every time an over the top action sequence arrives which, even though enjoyable, deprives the movie its authenticity. The other drawback is the songs which are far too many for a movie like this.
Madhuri Dixit has proven her prowess as a performer time and again with films like Lajja and Mrityudand. She did not disappoint us this time and came up with a powerful performance. Dixit fits seamlessly into the role and it's a delight to watch her in full form after a long time. She does exceptionally well in the action sequences.
Juhi Chawla is truly the surprise package of the film. She takes a complete u-turn from her current image and plays the role of an evil conniving politician with aplomb. Her scenes with Madhuri are the lifeline of the flick. The other principal members of the Gang also come up with winning performances.
Songs by Soumik Sen are tailor made for the film but barring one song, most songs don't do anything for the movie and just add to the length. Dialogues need a special mention which are razor sharp and fiery and make the proceedings immensely watchable.
It is definitely not a bad film and with some superlative performances and thoroughly enjoyable moments, which make it a decent watch. But Gulaab Gang deserved to be a better movie...