i have recently seen the movie gulaal and on reading this review, could not help but point out certain differences in opinion. i find the movie gulaal to be a brilliant criticism of identity politics. the secessionist movement being run in gulaal on the basis of the rajputana identity is the broader framework.within that we have each individual fighting his own battle of identity, thereby setting up political struggles within the front..we have KK leading the rajputana front mainly to avenge his father's suicide (the latter committed suicide after being deceived by the indira govt...suicide is considered to be the last option by rajputs to save one's honour..it is better to die than live in disgrace..thus his father suicide for rajput KK signalled his failure to uphold the family honour..and KK takes it up on himself to correct it)....we have a bastard fighting his own political battle to get a proper identity...in the patriarchal semi feudal society, not having a father's identity is a stigma..his sister has a bigger agenda of restoring the siblings honour by fighting a gender war within a male dominated system..within the rajputs there are no unity which is repeatedly harped on by the protagonists..we thus have a splinter group in hostel trying hard to setup their own group within the hierarchical setup...we have a grand Prince struggling with his love for his illegitimate daughter who seeks official recognition of her lineage (whom he cannot give a legitimate identity because of his stature) and his legitimate son who refuses to take up the mantle of his royal identity...his attempt to rope the latter in the political process to keep him within the rajput domain ultimately leads to the latter's death, ironically by the hands of his illegitimate son...we have the legitimate son himself getting involved in the political struggle because he is indebted to KK for saving him from a rival group and also because the sense of honour in him demands he absolves himself of such debts by winning the college election, thereby proving himself to be a true rajput and a leader...and finally we have the main protagonist..a rajput by birth but having none of the identity characteristics (he is meek, nonaggresive and rather docile)..who struggles within himself to find his own identity as he does not fit as the stereotype rajput image he is expected to...his final outburst is not just sexual frustration but a quest for a much more basic identity...the identity of a man as defined by a patriarchal society... thus in the paradigm of identity politics, each protagonist has multiple identities and the notion of fighting for one's identity ultimately forces each to fight for multiple such objectives...it thereby creates a quagmire which prevents the greater project of rajputana from taking wings...each individual is driven by one's identity and the need to redeem its honour which pits one against another... this notion of multiple identities and thereby multiple objectives of each character is a brilliant insight by the director...the blood and gory and the ultimate conclusion is not so much about criticizing secessionist movements or mainstream politics but is more about highlighting the futility of such myopic objectives...any struggle in the name of 'justice' cannot be termed just or progressive simply because it seeks to correct a wrong doing...it also doesnot depend on its course (the rajputana movement which poses as an armed struggle dabs with electoral politics for the first time by contesting college elections thereby participating in a 'democratic' process though the process itself is distorted by the powers that be) or political path it adopts...the very notion of identity politics simply to garner political power without addressing the social problems within the community renders the movement to be myopic, individualistic and ultimately self defeating...the battle for rajputana in not only about the rajput identity but also to protect the feudal social structure..while some of the characters fight desperately to uphold it, others are trying to break into the system (rather than break the system itself)..this then is the biggest problem for the movement as it ultimately turn out to be self defeating... unfortunate though it maybe..it however remains a fact that such feudal politics still dominate our country and the progressive alternative has failed to change the political paradigm in this country...while the need for the latter is utmost..one cannot hold the director guilty for not showing it...i also find it hard to accept that the movie is about apolitics...the main protagonist is an apolitical character who is drawn into the whole imbroglio...he doesnot do it by choice but is himself a victim of it...an innocent bystander is subjected to oppression because simply being a bystander doesnot guarantee safety...the system is so corrupt that it seeks out innocents and victimises them... the author tries to portray the rajputana movement as an united struggle and complains that the movie tries to discourage viewers from engaging in such activities...i differ with the author on the very notion of united struggle..the rajputana movement is not an united struggle...in the garb of identity based unity the movement is basically a regressive project of defending feudal setups which ultimately breaks down unity...the movie shows that a retrograde objective cannot form a united struggle...collective social agendas cannot be formed unless their is social homogeneity amongst the collective... a collective cannot demand equality and justice from the other unless there is equality and justice within the collective...any movement that refuses to address its internal contradictions and only seeks to challenge the exogenous 'other' is bound to get wrapped in the former... more dangerous is the attempt to compare the rajputana movement as a movement of the marginalised...the rajputs were and still are the ruling class and caste in the society...their complaints of marginalisation is not so much about social oppression but more about curtailment of power, a refusal of the feudal patriarchs to let go their rights to dictate...which is fundamentally different from the legacy of Tukaram and Ambedkar the author revokes...and in no way can be described as a class struggle in the sense we know it and approve of... thus gulaal is not a criticism of a united struggle of the marginalised from an apolitical viewpoint...gulaal is a criticism of retrograde agendas taking political forms..it doesnot seek to to criticise united actions..it shows that there cannot be unity in the name of some identity if the objective is not to address internal social contradictions but is directed to revive erstwhile social hierchial structures...
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