Due to events in her childhood, Rajjo (Madhuri Dixit) has grown up fiercely believing that women should be educated and have the power to stand up for themselves. Thus, she forms Gulaab Gang, a group of ladies clad in pink saris, who educate young girls and work towards the empowerment of women – many times by resorting to violent means. However, things get messy when Rajjo ends up locking horns with a local politician, Sumitra (Juhi Chawla), who is ruthless, manipulative, and even disgusting.
The makers will be breathing a sigh of relief because, after a dicey situation, the film has finally been allowed to release in the country. But does it live up to expectations? Here’s what we think.
The best part about Gulaab Gang is, of course, the way it treats female characters. Here, the women take centre-stage, and the stunts, fights and action sequences are as glorified as they would be in any Salman Khan-backed vehicle. While some of the scenes may require suspension of disbelief, at the end of the day, it’s refreshing to see a fight sequence happening between ladies and men, where the ladies hold their own against their male counterparts (as if gender isn’t an issue at all). In general, too, several portions of the film feel empowering, and you can’t help but internally cheer on this gang of women, even when they use questionable means to achieve ‘justice’.
The acting, as well, is a highlight. It’s quite the casting coup anyway to see Juhi and Madhuri in a film together, and they both do a great job – especially when in the same frame. Madhuri gives Rajjo her all, doing everything from singing, dancing, and fighting. As for Juhi, it’s difficult to see someone like her playing such a villainous role, only because most of us have grown up seeing her as the loveable girl next door. However, she cuts an impressive figure, and is menacing in a very understated manner.
However, the film’s biggest downfall is all the added ‘frills’. You expect a story like Gulaab Gang to be hard-hitting, but it’s difficult to take it too seriously when a supposedly imposing character like Rajjo breaks into song-and-dance multiple times throughout the film. Or when she laughs at a student of hers singing Ek, Do, Teen; a reference of an older Madhuri song. Or when she is able to perform crazy stunts and take on a gang of men with a perfectly made-up face and not a strand of hair out of place. All of these dilute the impact that that film could have, making it feel more like a masala flick in parts.
Gulaab Gang is a commendable effort, and worth a watch for the Madhuri and Juhi combination. However, it is let down in parts by its Bollywoodization.