Direction: Soumik Sen
Actors: Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Juhi Chawla
In Gulaab Gang, writer-director Soumik Sen brings together a slew of talented women — Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Juhi Chawla, Divya Jagdale, Tannishtha Chatterjee. He lifts liberally from the inspiring story of Sampat Pal, an illiterate villager who formed a group of women vigilantes called Gulabi Gang in Bundelkhand. But Sen is unable to embed the actresses into his fictionalised version in a coherent way. The result is an ineffectual and messy ode to women empowerment in which women, with nicely styled hair and handloom saris, maim, kill, fight elections and in between find the time to sing and dance.
It’s fun to see the saccharine sweet Juhi turn venomous. She plays Sumitra Devi, a deliciously despicable politician. Her perverse wickedness is the best part of the film. But it’s such a one-note character that it soon becomes predictable. Meanwhile, Madhuri as Rajjo is the avenging angel who channels her inner Durga and even gets to wield an axe. It’s also nice to see women kicking ass onscreen but it would be nicer if the narrative had some logic. Even the accents in their fictional village are inconsistent.
For a real dose of women empowerment, watch Gulabi Gang, a terrific documentary on Sampat Pal, which is still running in select theaters. Gulaab Gang is the masala remix.