And here comes another Anurag Kashyap film, Gulaal. After the scintillating depiction of reality in Black Friday and the careless beauty of Dev D, one must enter the theatre with an expectation of ruthless depiction of truth and fearless criticism of all that exist around him/her,and let me start with my humble request to the producer of this film, please give me back my 40 rupees. I am not really in a mood to join the troupe whose only aim and objective in life is to reduce the responsibility and liability of the collective mass to the personal pathos of the individual.
I have no complaint about the technicalities of the movie, because there are few flaws which are pretty common when one directs his very first film. The film is totally based on Rajasthan without a single shot of wide angle rajasthani grandeur, which makes the picturization a little bit dull. The dialogues are excellently written but sometimes out of context. In most of the crucial scenes, the melodrama remained prominent over the content. The use of simile and metaphors in the form of a human being and one bard may be too good for the commercial mainstream film industry. But these are not at all the things which bothered me and my politics. The thing which bothered me is the approach of the movie which takes the viewer in a conducted tour to show the remnants of half transformed feudal society of India, shows the common rivalry between two royal bloodlines, but intentionally, never explains its nature. It pretended that it has shown the dark side of the political India, but actually it remains silent about the illuminated side. It shows all the gangrenes of the society which are developed after long ill-treatment of the doctor, but never explains the role of the doctor, rather it lets the viewer think the gangrene as the supreme and only state of social being.
The film starts in Rajasthan where a group of Rajputs is trying to build a separate “Rajputana” nation of its own, by its own, for its own. The film covers a period of 12 months of this political exercise and not even for a single frame we could find the intervention of the state or the central government of India. I don’t know what the highly educated film buffs would say about the cinematic demand of the presence of the government, but as far as I am concerned, it can only be decoded as giving legitimacy to each and every separatist movements happening all over our country.
Gulaal belongs to that genre of films which is made intentionally to inject the conventional notions of society against any sort of united revolt into the blood of the middle class by individuals insecured by birth. These type of films are made in regular intervals in our country and more unfortunately, these are normally made by critically acclaimed directors and technicians and actors, which in turn,independent of its content, successfully covers up a sizable portion of the youth. .
By showing the political agenda of the leader of Rajputana movement as solely dependent on his personal calculations, or the transformation of a studious, meek student of law into a sex-driven maniac after joining the political movement, the director may think that he has proved the uselessness of these separatist movements, however, he must know the basic truth of the universe that white is never white without the presence of black. In the total film only one type of politics is shown, and that is the politics based on individual hatred, love, greed and power hunger, which only conveys the message of depoliticizing the society. This depiction of politics joins the rank of another beautiful way of stylizing the struggle of class, very much similar to the transformation of che’s face into pop icon.
The film talks about the politics which is controlled and financially supported by some chief justice with his only aim to push his son in the forefront of this movement. The presentation of the character of that son, who never cares about the power and property of his father (but strangely lives a luxurious life with a wall full of scotch whiskeys that too named “Republic” and “Democracy”…. What a cliché!!!), who can keep his own life on bait for his roommate who happens to be a victim of horrendous ragging (but more strangely never understands the need to propagate the ideas to everyone), and who dies after submitting his nomination form as the General Secretary of the college where he used to study in, clearly shouts in our ear the long whispered saying, ‘as long as you are happy with yourself, you are safe, but at the very moment you want to be united, your life is at stake, yanna rascala, mind it!!’
Anurag successfully added another film in the long list of films which are used to maintain the hegemonic structure of individualism, and that is why, in my opinion, Gulaal is no less harmful than “Youth For Equality”.
From the tagline of the film to the last scene, the word “kranti” (Revolution) was reiterated several times, and very interestingly, as all roads lead to Rome, all of the revolutions were also carefully made to lead either to the post of the chief, or to the lap of a woman. Reducing each and every aspect of political flaw and ideological bankruptcy of the separatist movement into the domain of sexual frustration may make the long died famous dream interpreter happy, but is surely ruining the political future of our country.
Denying the class struggle of the marginalized sections of our country, when the revolt of the marginalized is shown as nothing but the singular aim of capturing the throne, this film insults the minority rights movement of our country, and I believe Anuraag is very much aware of this. The history of our minority rights movement starts long ago and we bear the legacy of tukarams and ambedkars. We have our rich history of movements seeking equal rights for the minority, be it religion, be it caste, be it gender. And in each and every case, wherever the history is of emancipation of the minority or the underprivileged, class struggle remained the key initiator and key catalyst. Ignoring this aspect of minority emancipation in a film where the history is tried to be presented in a not-so-mainstream manner, can never be called a mistake, it’s a crime. The director may think that he has made an epic in his very first film as a director by showing the mighty and inevitable emancipation of the marginalized, but I can’t restrain myself from tagging this film as one of the most dangerous and socially harmful movies in Indian film history where the director cleverly stays behind the façade of storytelling and cautiously deletes few chapters of the story. And as the name of the director is Anurag Kashyap, who firmly belongs to the “elite” and “true” filmamkers’ group with his colleagues like Vishal Bharadwaj, Anurag Basu, Madhur Bhandarkar, Ramgopal Verma, Neeraj Pandey, Rakesh Mehra Et. Al., a considerable number of intellectual youth will swear by the film, as we have repeatedly seen after the release of Rang De Basanti or Wednesday or Fashion or Page 3.
Gulaal can never replace the colour of the blood, how hard one may try. Every inhuman effort to establish the victory of individual agenda over collective agenda will continue to go in vain as long as we have the legacy of class driven mass movements in our blood. And its high time for these fellows to understand this simple fact, otherwise, they will also not be spared by the Frankenstein.