Saturday, March 14, 2009

From the Deep and the Dark of the Human Mind: Gulaal

Sometimes writing something is compulsory. And writing about Gulaal is something I have to do right now. Right now I am sitting in my office. I have just returned from E-Square where I watched ‘Gulaal’. It is 10.59 pm and tons of work is pending but I can’t think of anything but Gulaal. So work will have to wait till tomorrow.

Now about Gulaal. First,

Warning: If you didn’t like Delhi 6, the chances are that you will find Gulaal mind-numbingly boring.

Another Warning:
Gulaal uses very rough, rowdy, derogatory and offensive language. So if you are a traditionally raised Indian woman, or a middle-class parent who behaves as if he never used, or heard people using, such language then you won’t even be able to watch the movie.

A good review demands that you should give a rundown of the story without actually killing the reader’s curiosity about the movie. And I really hate this part. So please read the summery of the story of Gulaal here on this review published on

When somebody writes a story or makes a movie he has certain objectives which he wants the story to fulfil. Most of the commercial films have only one objective, to entertain the people. Why, because we essentially go to watch a movie to be entertained. So as consumer our expectations about the product exactly match with that of the producer. So when a director succeeds in making an entertaining film, we get a blockbuster. Hence we have these films called masala films which aim at creating a perfectly entertaining concoction.

Now there is nothing wrong in wanting to entertain people. That’s the reason why the movie industry is a part of the lager entertainment industry. But there is a big problem when we look at movies as products of art. This ‘art’ part royally fucks with the simple definition of a movie as a vehicle to entertain people. Generally it is said that when you are experiencing a work of art, there are five levels to describe this experience.

1. Unsatisfactory
2. OK
3. Satisfactory
4. Entertaining
5. Meaningful

Now since it’s art, the experience depends upon the person itself. But generally for average people, when the director tries to be meaningful, he has to cut down on entertainment part. (Aamir Khan is one filmmaker who understands how to maintain this balance and yet create a blockbuster.)

And I sincerely believe that from an average moviegoer’s point of view Anurag Kashyap has failed to maintain the entertainment-meaning balance.

But for those who are ready to venture into darker parts of human soul to understand people and world better, this movie is an absolute treat. And apart from that the movie has very good cinematography and dialog.

One problem why the movie fails to entertain/satisfy (depending upon how you look at it) is lack of a traditional plot. For example the movie doesn’t have any Hero. Dilip Kumar Singh is the protagonist of the story, he is certainly not a Hero. One basic rule that a every beginning writer is instructed to follow is to make the protagonist likable. Here Anurag Kashyap is the least bothered about making the protagonist likable. In fact for me the character of Dilip Kumar Singh is the least liked one. He is weak, spineless, and easily gullible and he doesn’t really have much of aptitude. I can not even pity him.

It is really hard to keep the audience interested in the story if you lack a plot, because the curiosity of ‘What happens next’? is something that keeps the audience firmly riveted to the story. And plot makes it easier to keep up this curiosity. If you don’t have a plot then what is currently happening on the screen has to be so engrossing that it shouldn't give the user a chance to think about what happens the next. Also this makes it harder for the director to create a continuous flow out of the story. Anurag Kashyap has coped with these challenges very well, still for around half an hour before the interval, I found myself asking, why am I really watching this? Is it really heading anywhere? But fortunately after the interval I was again firmly involved in the story.

But if you stopped to look at it as traditional story and just looked at it as a series of interconnected character studies, it is really engrossing. What I got from the movie is that people are all about their aspirations. All our actions are governed by what we want, consciously and unconsciously. Our aspirations create meaning in our lives. If we want to understand how a person will behave in a certain situation, we must be able to understand his/her real aspirations.

And one more thing some aspirations can force us to make dreadful choices. So be careful about what you want!

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