MovieChat Forums > Gulaal (2009) Discussion > Metaphors in the Film

Metaphors in the Film


I loved the metaphors in the film, though my poor understanding of the epics left me confused about some:

For example, does anyone fully understand the recurring presence of monkeys in the film? Right from the start they've populated shots in the film, in the beginning in the form of actors who were dressed up as mythological warrior-monkeys accompanying Sita. Then there was that political speech where Prithvi Bana pulls out a simian mask and suggests wearing it instead of 'gulaal' at the Rajputana gatherings. He says the Rajputs will then truly be one race - a hidden, united and potent force. The irony in his claims are of course quite evident (the Rajputs are behaving like monkeys by unquestioningly and unthinkingly aping their Senapati) but I feel this also ties in with a larger metaphor that may have something to do with Hanuman rescuing a burning Lanka. Could someone please clarify? Or am I being over-analytical?

Also, there was the Karan-Kiran theme. That draws from the Mahabharat too, right, with the illegitimate prince struggling for his rightful throne. Where does Kiran come in there?

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Hey - GOOD THINKING man! I just watched it like 5 mins back and it kind of intrigued me the way it played out too - especially Bana's 'court jester' character.. along with his playmate.. although its never really explained how Bana got this way - except for a quick short reference to the past when he gets home from somewhere (England?)..

but the Karan/Kiran duo was quite likely the Mahabharat reference to the illegitimate child.. only there was no Kiran - but Kiran is like the female version of the same name - and when they go together, they sound similar too..

maybe an unintended comparison can be made to the politician Raj Thackeray - I hope he gets something 'positive' out of this film - it reminded me of his 'sons of the soil' stance..

another 'metaphor' or maybe just a reference - is when the girl plays the guitar as they sit in the office plotting the ascent of Karan to the throne - she plays this song by Floyd - from the Wall - i cant remember the name now.. but that album - and the film - was similarly depressing in a way, in it's reference to human nature.. (or maybe her playing the guitar is a sign of her 'western outlook' and hence that makes her part of today's generation who dont have qualms about 'sleeping around' - as perceived by society)

..good case study for film students!

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Must say that I didn't get the monkeys metaphor.
However, what I found very interesting was the metaphor for international politics. Anurag & PK Mishra leaves hints about this angle in the song "Ranaji" where he mentions the WTO Towers, Iraq and Afghanistan. In the climax, we again have Prithvi Bana complaining on the phone to Bush about the theft of oil in the Middle East. So I tried to dig deeper and find out the link between the film and the War on Terror and came up with some surprising answers.
In the film we have Dilip Singh being groomed in politics by Dukki Bana, only for Dilip to shoot Dukki in the end - just like the Taliban was initially supported by the US only for the Americans to find out later that they had been training suicide biombers against their estwhile mentors in 911.
On another level we have Kiran using various people at one level while she is used by her brother at another level - just like Pakistan is being used by the US in its War on Terror at one level while it is using US arms and aid to pursue its own jihadi agenda in the region. This becomes especially clear in the awesome dialogue between Dilip & Kiran in the climax when Dilip warns Kiran that Dukki & her brother using her, only for Kiran to tell Dilip that it is actually she who is using them and not the other way around.

All in all, a complete masterpiece by Anurag Kashyap - this film works at so many levels that it is absolutely mind-boggling.

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The last song which kiran was playing with guitar is 'good bye blue sky' by pink floyd from the album 'the wall'.

From my point of view, the monkey was with lord Raam and sita. And they were the characters of ramlila as you can see the dasera and diwali in the film. I believe those ramlila characters represent those hindutva-badi nationalist organizations like sivsena and RSS. The agenda of rajputana movement is similar to that of those nationalist parties like RSS. We all know what happened in Mahrastra some 3-4 months back. They are fighting for the same *beep* reason, i.e. 'maharastra for only marathis'. That’s why in one scene you can see pritvi bana wares a false "hitlarian moustache" and shouts 'birvoggya basundhara'.
Besides they are mockery of the whole situation actually, the pseudo-seriousness of those jokers is incredible! Particularly the Hijra who was accompanying pritvi bana is amazing. They are such people who can’t die or live in this society. They co-exist but remains silent or forced to do so, and when they opens their mouth, they die, likewise in the film too.. dukki shots him dead.


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Great point there mate..... and prithvi banna shouts 'jai rajputana' not 'birvoggya basundhara'.

AnnaSophia Robb i love u!!!!!

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yes, you are right. it was 'jai rajputana'. thanks for the correction.

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There is no relation between RSS, Shiv Sena, Maharashtra-issue and Hitler (or any two of the list) - within or without the movie.
The movie was in making for 7-8 years. There was no Raj Thakre (he represents MNS, not Shiv Sena) at that time.

Prithvi and his sidekick are the most wonderful thing in the movie, IMO.

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yes! thts the song - love that song, and love the emotions that it can arouse when played anywhere, anytime!

meanwhile, Dipanjan - thts an awesome theory - kudos for tht gem of an idea - really works and fits well with the 'saanp ko doodh pilana' theory - with the US and the Taliban! While even the Karan and Kiran theory fits perfectly! wow! u should write a review of the film and include these ideas!!

u know what i liked Dilip's character - its one of the most common characters that one comes across! I have a friend who turned against our group of friends thanks to his girlfriend - it was his first girl and he was totally 'blinded', so much so that he could see no fault in her, while he pointed fingers at the other guys at her instigation..

well - it was an amazingly intense film - i still cant stop thinking abt it!

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great analysis....

but the writer-composer of the songs is Piyush Mishra and not PK Mishra
PK Mishra was the lyricist of some of the earliest songs by AR Rahman

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Good analysis, Dipanjan. It is one of the compelling metaphors AK uses in the film and you have decoded it quite well. I am sure there were many more. Stuff just kept coming at you, almost like the Matrix. Requires multiple viewing to get a grasp of what he was trying to say...

Luckily, at least he said it in an entertaining way and not a preachy way like most "art" films that deal with such themes!

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My analysis:

The only prominent old character in the whole movie is Prithvi Bana, who comes along with the Ardh-Nareshwar - which represent the old India and the religious India - always going hand in hand - disillusioned and unfitting to current days. After the eventual death of Ardh-Nareshwar, which probably represent death of religious values, the role of Prithvi suddenly vanishes in the movie.

There are strong Freudian undertones, just like in Dev D. Kiran is a very strong character, but is still following her brother as if he is the father she never had. Dilip acts like the intellectual India acting "good boy" and ignorant to the perils that lie within hand's reach. Anuja represents a mother figure, starting from the first scene, in which both are together naked and where Dilip acts respectfully towards Anuja. Then the character grows, encounters pain and comes to Anuja, who is loving but has no interest in sex. (Dilip has!) (The scene where he is in her laps like a baby.) Then the character grows and falls in love with Kiran, while Anuja still sticks around for apparently no reason. When heartbroken and disillusioned, he comes back and blames Anuja for the problems in his life. Ultimately Anuja leaves him to deal with his problems alone.

While ardh-nareshwar part may be overanalysis by me, I am sure I got the second part right :)

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nothing to offend anyone here...but let me say this..just because its an anurag kashyap film..it doesn't necessarily means it has to be metaphoric all the time. that mahabharaata metaphor and the one one which deals with monkeys and rajputana..its simply not there...there have been a lot of movies in the past having such characters which were there with some purpose but surely not for the way you all are putting them to be...I don't believe there's any metaphor in karan-kiran or the monkeys...they are just there....the only metaphor (if i can call it that) is the beautiful poetry of the movie which follow most of the scenes...the poetry is there to provide all the answers and the realizations..

This movie is fantastic and i guess the most hard-core drama I have ever seen..and its made in a way to be understood pretty simply.

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AK might not have attempted all these metaphors or might not even have thought about them.. but still, everybody is free to interpret the movie the way they want to.. and some of the above metaphors and interpretations are fascinating...

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Don't know about the actual intention of the metaphors but one that did exist and hit me like a jolt in the movie, was when prithvi bana comes to Kay Kay's room and claims that he's lost something important, something that that dad had actually left for the elder son but the younger one snatched it away and had divided it into two parts..and it turns out to be a map showing the intended Rajputana free state..i really thought it was brilliant

Anuraag kashyap, where were you when the Karan Johars and Aditya Chopras were ruining quality indian cinema?

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well not exactly metaphors but there are few more things in film which were new or unique

e.g. police inspector who is shot dead by bana .may be he came from a lower caste and was enjoying fruits of democracy against past feudal lords.

then the narcissist mistress of bana who always watched one series in which she acted is so realistic and so is wife of bana. women in all political families are like her only.

then case of party people going with kiran instead of supporting dileep , a common occurrence.



now big flaws:

1. At the end of movie it is not understandable why not the faithful servant get the whole army out and save the bana instead of listening to *beep* of dileep.

2. it is ridiculous that a college in desert will get 10 lakhs for its annual function from corporates and one could swindle all the money. further a cult supported by ex royals and with power to kill police inspector does not need this change of money.

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I like what you said about Hanuman, EXCEPT that you need to add in the fact that Hanuman did not rescue a burning Lanka. He burns Lanka, which makes what you said make all the more sense.

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The monkey reference is on evolution. How monkeys stay always in groups and fight with other monkeys from other groups. Basically, the thought is that these people who talk of separate states have not evolved and are still monkeys in their thinking. Hence a deep and sharp thought from Anurag Kashyap.

This of course can be applied to any communal, casteist, racist thinker.

In another theme, the alcohols in the film are all named - colonial, capitalist, republic etc. This is a reference to how ideologies are like an intoxication and the hold they have over people. Drinkers of an ideology will not open their mind to another ideology and the more they consume it the more addicted they will become.

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