Anurag Kashyap's GULAAL restricts itself, when it could have cut across the audience. It begins with a bang, with Kay Kay Menon as Dukey Bana giving off an explosive speech to his band of followers. He wants a separate state to be ruled by the Rajputs, but what follows next is not what was promised.
As the camera closes in on Menon, looking solid and purposeful in his effort to start off a movement, you settle in for an engaging fare. But nothing much happens. The ragging is not what it was meant to be, disturbing and devious; Jessy Randhawa as the college professor does not fit the bill and her trying to be around the student Dileep (Raj Singh Chaudhary) who was locked nude with her for three days, also does not have any purpose. That aspect of the relationship is not dwelt upon. In addition, the relationship between Kiran (Ayesha Mohan) and Karan (Aditya Srivastav), the brother-sister duo who have their own agenda is not dealt with. In short, the multiple characters hold the film together with their performances.
In the end, it turns out to be a love story gone wrong. Where the girl uses the boy to plan her moves and the boy, surprisingly, is not able to see the devious her. He loses his mind and goes off on a killing spree.
Only two characters are perfectly touched upon. One is Dukey Bana and Menon as the fanatic does a fantastic job. The other is Rananjay Singh Ransa (Abhimanyu Singh). As a rebel who has moved from his family heritage, Abhimanyu is excellent. His make-up and attitude goes with his character that has a mind of his own, inspite of being the beneficiary of a Royal Line in Rajasthan. Deepak Dobriyal as Menon's right hand (Bhatti) is once again immersed in his character. Mahi Gill who surprised with her act as Paro in DEV. D has proved that her performance was no fluke. She, like Dobriyal, belongs to the class of actors who believe in being the character. Jessy Randhawa in her first full-fledged role is very impressive but her character lacks meat, and towards the end, she lacks conviction in her part. That's because the director, instead of capitalizing on her humiliation is more concerned about Kiran who has political aspirations.
Rajeev Ravi as the cinematographer combines well with Kashyap in his mode of thinking and portrays on screen just what the director wants. The two seem to be working in sync, with Ravi fully understanding Kashyap's thought pattern.
But Kashyap had on his hand a wonderful subject. If only he had focused on one aspect (college politics and Dukey Bana's role in it), the film would have turned out to be a hard-hitting one. Trust Kashyap to go into the abstract. But then, that's his brand of filmmaking.