10 Years of Gulaal: Why the Politics and Poetry of the Anurag Kashyap Film Have Acquired Cult Status

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10 Years of Gulaal: Why the Politics and Poetry of the Anurag Kashyap Film Have Acquired Cult Status

Illustration: Arati Gujar

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ohn F Kennedy believed that “If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politic” the world would be a better place. Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy is perhaps the ideal example of a man who knows his poetry, but may not know his politics. A decade ago, Anurag Kashyap produced a film situated on the opposite end of that spectrum, where young men know their politics, but not their poetry. Now a decade old, Gulaal, is perhaps Kashyap’s most unforgiving film and not because it’s dressed in Kashyap’s trademark brashness or penchant for violence, but because like life, it is grounded in cynicism. Gulaal tells us that the hostility of youth is often misdirected and eventually devoted to causes born out of scorn that no amount of poetry can subsume.

Released to little fanfare only a month after his much more anticipated Dev D hit theatres, Gulaal was at the time a risibly odd film. Gulaal – the colour red – is symbolic of a number of things: love, anger, lust, and betrayal. Kashyap’s film addressed all with a palette so evocative that it plays a character in itself.

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