Sahara Movie Studios, Bharat Shah and Benaras Mediaworks’ Gulaab Gang (UA) is the story of a social activist, Rajjo (Madhuri Dixit), who lives in a village and is the leader of a woman gang called Gulaab Gang. The women in the gang look after troubled and tortured ladies and, wielding sticks, beat up errant men. They don’t consider themselves less than men and often prove to be stronger than them. Rajjo also teaches the village kids as she herself is educated. It is her ardent desire to open a school in the village.
Sumitra Devi (Juhi Chawla) is a wily politician who’d do anything for her chair. An unscrupulous person, she extends Rajjo an olive branch when she sees that villagers are very fond of Rajjo. But Rajjo, principled as she is, turns down the partnership offer of Sumitra Devi and, in fact, decides to contest elections with a view to defeating her. Sumitra Devi, slighted by Rajjo’s rebuff, pulls out all stops to ensure that Rajjo is defeated.
So what happens? Do Rajjo’s honesty, integrity and simplicity ensure her victory in the elections? Or does Sumitra Devi use all means, fair and unfair, to emerge victorious? Do Rajjo and Sumitra Devi ultimately unite or does their enmity continue? What happens to Rajjo’s dream of opening a school in the village?
Soumik Sen’s story may have a novel angle about women empowerment but having said that, it must be added that the drama is dull, dry and drab. His screenplay consists of scenes which would appeal to a very thin section of the class audience but would not interest the others one bit. A couple of confrontation scenes between Rajjo and Sumitra Devi are interesting but that’s just not enough. A word here about the characterisations of Rajjo and Sumitra Devi. Rajjo, played by Madhuri Dixit, and her women gang are shown to be super-women performing dare-devil stunts and defeating an army of strong and powerful male ruffians on several occasions, something which the audience will find difficult to digest. The action scenes often come across as aimed at making Madhuri Dixit look like a female Salman Khan, something which becomes unintentionally funny. In fact, cat-calls in cinema halls in such action scenes cannot be ruled out. Likewise, Sumitra Devi is so evil that the audience may find it difficult to digest Juhi Chawla enacting that role. Also, the below-the-belt dialogues (in indecorous and objectionable language) mouthed by Rajjo and Sumitra Devi leave a bad taste in the mouth of the viewer because both, Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla, have been heroines popular with the family audience.
Another point which will definitely go against the film is that except for the highly evolved audience, the other viewers will not appreciate the beating up of men by ladies – this, because of the male-dominated society Indians live in. For the same reason, lack of a hero in the drama will tell on the box-office performance of the film, that too in a very pronounced manner.
It is not clear why Rajjo does not approve of Sumitra Devi’s proposal to name the school after her (Sumitra Devi). After all, Rajjo was desirous of opening a school in the village and it shouldn’t have mattered to her whether the school was named after Sumitra Devi or anyone else.
Again, although the all-women gang was formed to combat atrocities against the fairer sex, the drama veers towards the gang’s fight against a woman-politician, which, in a way, dilutes the basic aims of the gang. All in all, the dry and uninteresting drama tests the audience’s patience and lets boredom creep in at a very early stage. It can be said in a lighter vein that people who dare to sit through the entire film run the risk of dying of boredom.
Dialogues, penned by Soumik Sen and Amitosh Nagpal, are very good at places and may even evoke claps at a couple of places.
Madhuri Dixit does a truly fine job as Rajjo. She plays to the gallery and although her action scenes look far-fetched, her performance in them as also in scenes requiring her to act cannot be faulted. In fact, she does justice to the character of Rajjo. Juhi Chawla springs a pleasant surprise in an out-and-out negative role. She plays the wily politician to the hilt and ad vantageously uses her facial expressions and body language to convey her evil nature. Divya Jagdale shines in the role of Mahie. Priyanka Bose (as Sandhya) and Tannishtha Chatterjee (as Kajri) are also superb. Joginder Singh leaves an impact in the role of Pawan Shankar. Sushil Bonthiyaal has his moments as personal assistant Sharma. Atul Srivastava (as BDO officer), Rajeev Saxena (as inspector Rajesh Singh), Ranjan Koshal (as inspector Ramlal), Deepak Dhadwal (as the election officer), Tanvi Rao (as Fiza), Lata S. Singh (as Tara), Vinitha Menon (as Vinita), Rani Patel (as Khushboo), Sudev Nair (as Arun Shankar), Ram Singh Falkoti (as Mukhiyaji), Ankit Sharma (as Sarju), baby Arya Sharma (as little Rajjo), Santosh Kaushik (as Rajjo’s father), Rachna Joshi (as Rajjo’s step-mother), Bachan Pachera (as Fiza’s father), Soma Jain (as Kajri’s mother-in-law), Eszter Gulyas (as the foreign journalist), Ajay Arya (as the male journalist) and the others lend able support.
Soumik Sen’s direction does not add much to the drab drama. Like his script, even his narrative style would appeal to the high gentry audience only. Soumik Sen’s music is more class-appealing than mass-appealing. ‘Gulaabi’, ‘Sharm laaj’, ‘Dheemi dheemi’, ‘Rang saari gulaabi’ and ‘Jai ho’ are well-tuned songs but none is of the kind which will become popular. Lyrics (Neha Saraf, Soumik Sen and Shreya Narayan) go well with the mood of the film. Choreography (by Saroj Khan) of a couple of songs is eye-pleasing. John Stewart’s background music is good. Action scenes, composed by Parvez Shaikh and Feroz, are over the top and quite unpalatable. Alphonse Roy’s camerawork is of a good standard. Sets (by Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray) are alright. Cheragh Todiwala’s editing is alright.
On the whole, Gulaab Gang is too dull, dry and boring to entertain. It will be anything but in the pink of health at the ticket windows. It will flop miserably at the box-office.