Gulaab Gang: Colourless

MUMBAI: There are a whole lot of enthusiastic new filmmakers who want to be launched and they are often impressed by a local story, episode or a character that they think, it is a subject apt for a film. But biopics are not accepted in India generally. Even a film like Gandhi only just managed to scrape through. The others, whether on Nehru, Bose, Patel or Ambedkar have been box office disasters.

The story of Gulaab Gang emanates from a real-life UP character, Sampat Pal Devi, who commandeers a gang of women adorned in pink saris. The gang’s agenda is to get justice for the poor ill-treated women of the area. The makers deny that the story is based on the life of Sampat Pal Devi and even run a slide at the beginning to the effect, but the similarities of not only the basic concept but even the events and incidents are the kinds Devi dealt with. In which case, coincidences to a real life character abound in this film.

Madhuri Dixit is beaten black and blue by her step mother even as her father looks on. But she is determined to learn to read and write. Next thing you know, Madhuri has suddenly turned into a middle-aged woman who runs this gang-cum-NGO described as Gulaab Gang. Her campus looks like one from a Bruce Lee Kung Fu film teaching a bunch of Chinese students the art of self-defence, except that here there are pink-sari-clad women trying their hands on lathi wielding.

Producer:  Anubhav Sinha.

Director: Soumik Sen.

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

In a poorly conceived script, nobody seems to care for Madhuri and her pink brigade or seems oblivious of it because the crimes against women abound in her region! Her reputation is not enough; every time, she has to demonstrate the power of her lathi brigade! After a couple of demos to establish the might of Gulaab Gang, the routine sets in. The film proceeds to show the same politicians vs police vs ordinary citizen saga which finds its roots in post emergency antiestablishment era of filmmaking.

It is time to pit Madhuri against her bete noire, Juhi Chawla. She is an overambitious widow of a politician with dubious credentials. She is a well established leader doing very well for herself and her party. Yet she decides to cross swords with Madhuri for no apparent reason. It is only one of the incidents of several for which there is no explanation. Things happen with no reason. The film loses its viewer every few minutes.

While Madhuri and Juhi are pitted against each other for nothing, the usual caricatures hanging around a politician and well-meaning Taus hanging around Madhuri abound.

Except for using real life incidents from Sampat’s life, the film has nothing original to offer.  These incidents, which needed to be cemented together to make this into an interesting narration is grossly missing. The direction is shoddy when not amateur; the director has no clue as to his medium or the theme. Dialogue is poor. Editing could have worked to halve the film’s length. The use of music is pretentious with little relevance. Madhuri tries to portray a combination of Santokben Jadeja (Vinay Shukla’s Godmother) and Dhankor Ba (Supriya Pathak in Ram Leela); what is she, a social worker or a don? Juhi is a poor version of her former self.

Gulaab Gang is an arduous watch; a punishment to sit through.

Queen: Marry Go Round

Queen is a coming of age movie. While we keep making the odd coming-of-age hero-oriented film now and then, their scripts remain half-baked. Queen is about a girl on the verge of her marriage who gets a second chance to see the world and come out of her cocoon.

Kangana Ranaut is Rani and her boyfriend has dubbed her queen. Kangana is from a traditional Punjabi halwai family leading a disciplined life. She is the obedient, home-to-college/college-to-home type. Rajkummar Rao, the son of a family friend, is besotted with her simple beauty and starts chasing her. Since the families know each other, a marriage date is soon fixed.

Producers: Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane.

Director: Vikas Bahl.

Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Rajkummar Rao, Lisa Haydon.

Rajkummar is now a foreign-returned groom, having just got back from finishing his education in London. A couple of days before the marriage date, his foreign experience catches up with him. He does not want to marry Kangana anymore; she does not seem his type. He breaks the news to Kangana while his folks do so to her parents.

Kangana is devastated. Any girl from a traditional family who has known only one man in her life, her groom to be, would be. After spending a couple of days locked up in her room, she emerges to face the world. She has the ticket and the visa to visit Paris, the trip was planned as her honeymoon trip and she decides to make it a solo honeymoon trip.

A shy and scared Kangana discovers herself in this strange land with a language she does not understand. She befriends the hotel waitress, a single mother, Lisa Haydon, who has some Indian genes in her and can mutter some Hindi. After spending a few days in Paris, Lisa packs her off to Amsterdam. The travel, she feels, will help Kangana and help change her outlook.

It is time for Rajkummar to miss Kangana and he is back on her spur. He wants to rekindle the romance and even feels jealous when he sees her in the company of other men. But Kangana is in no hurry. She wants to complete her tour. Decisions about life can always be taken at leisure.

Queen is a simple but nice story about traditions vs breaking the shackles. Foreign locations make it a bit more watchable. The film rests solely on the shoulders of Kangana and she does justice to her role. Rajkummar does not fit the romantic hero any which way you look at it; not even if you think of a middle class family. The supporting cast is apt. Songs are well choreographed. Direction is good.

Queen is a watchable film but suffers due to face value and exams. It will get praises but little from the box office.

Total Siyapaa: Total Waste

Total Siyapaa is an idea worth exploring. It is about an independent-minded Indian Punjabi girl falling in love with a Pakistani Punjabi boy in a neutral land that is England. Alas, Total Siyapaa may have the initial idea, but the film fails to develop into something more substantial and falls flat on execution.

Yaami Gautam is taking her Pakistani boyfriend, Ali Zafar, home to meet her parents, Kirron Kher and Anupam Kher. While Yaami awaits his arrival, Ali is in constant touch with her and mentions having brought a bomb of a gift for her. A Pink Panther kind of cop, gnawing on his doughnut, happens to pick up the word ‘bomb’ and, instead of his girlfriend’s house, Ali finds himself in a police lock up. The level of humour the film plans to unleash on the viewer established, the film proceeds to dish out more of the same.

Producers: Neeraj Pandey, Shital Bhatia.

Director: Neeraj Pandey.

Cast: Ali Zafar, Yaami Gautam, Anupam Kher, Kirron Kher, Sara Khan.

Even while the debate on acceptance of a prospective Pakistani son-in-law continues, he is already ordered around by Kirron and made to do household chores. In an attempt to defrost soup, the container slips out of Ali’s hands, goes straight out of the kitchen window and lands on Anupam’s head, knocking him unconscious. The police, it is made to look, don’t take too kindly to the Pakistanis and Yaami does her best to keep Ali away from the scene of this accident not knowing the man lying unconscious on the street is her very own father.

When it is realised that the victim could well be Anupam the action shifts in his direction. Efforts to create funny situations out of his hospitalization, his encounter with a hooker and his family’s search for him don’t succeed. There is no comedy; the situations are just not funny enough. There are some side tracks like Yaami’s sister, Sara Khan, who has had a fight with her husband and has come to stay with her parents, and a running tiff with the Pakistani neighbors. The grandfather’s track is juvenile.

Performances are generally mediocre. Yaami is okay. Ali can’t act and ends up making awkward gestures with his hands. Kirron does what she is expected to do: play a loud Punjabi woman. Anupam is wasted. Sara Khan does well while the best of the lot is the child who plays Sara’s daughter; she is the only natural one.

The script is loose and lacking in substance, which makes the direction as uninspiring. The film has two good songs in Nahi maloom….. and Chal Buleya

A poor fare with indifferent public response, Total Siyapaa faces the threat of discontinuation from cinema halls mid-week.

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