Gulabi Talkies is a kannada movie directed by well known film director Girish Kasaravalli. The film is set in the late 1990s among the fishing communities around Kundapura, in the southwestern part of Karnataka. Gulabi Talkies is an interesting film with a perfect casting and outstanding performances. The film revolves around a Muslim woman called Gulabi, who is an expert midwife.
Gulabi leads a lonely life after her husband Moosa deserted her and is living happily with his second wife Kunjipathu and their child Adda. He stays in a house which is close to Gulabi’s house. Gulabi’s search for happiness and good life is looked down upon by the villagers but she is free from tensions. But she is unavoidable to the villagers when it comes to dealing with difficult deliveries. Gulabi has a passion for watching films and goes to the nearby town through a boat to watch movies every day. Her passion for films is so great that she doesn’t mind ignoring her work when watching a film.
A rich family gifts Gulabi a television with a dish antenna after she attends a difficult delivery. Through Gulabi, the director highlights the hypocrisy that exists in the coastal areas of karnataka. For instance, when Gulabi brings a colour TV in her house with dish connection, it changes the villager’s perception about her. The Hindu women in the village, who maintained a distance from Gulabi begin gathering at her house once their men leave for fishing. Her neighbours, especially children, start visiting her house for watching television programmes. Even her deserted husband Moosa visits Gulabi’s house to watch films.
Netru was a regular at Gulabis house. She has a domineering mother in law. Gulabi was very close to netru and she shares her fantasies with netru. The movie discusses communal problems prevailed in the society during that time. Problems faced by muslims are mentioned in the movie. The situation gets worse after the dissappearance of netru. The Muslims in the kunadapura village flee and they urge Gulabi to leave too, but she refuses and stays in her house in the village. Few young men from outside destroyed her house and she was forcefully taken to a boat to leave the island. Young men assure the villagers that Gulabi’s television would remain in her house. The film ends with a scene in which two illiterate old women enters to gulabis house for watching television. They do not know how to switch on and they are unaware that TV has to be switched on.
The dialogues spoken in the native Kundapura accent are the best part of the film which reflects the emotions of the people. The director has taken many efforts in using kundapura accent in the movie and he deserves a big applause. The film is more like a documentary film. The movie has narrated the actual happenings of the coastal areas in Karnataka. The film not only just documents the problems in the coastal areas, but also analyse the situation and comments on the incidents in coastal areas. The film is not a documentary as its characters are fictional.
Umashri, who performs the role of gulabi is the heart and soul of the film with her face showing a number of expressions. It’s hard for one to think of any other Kannada actress who can perform such a difficult role so convincingly. The director has used many local artists in the film who have also delivered very good performances. Camera work by Ramachandra and background score by Issac Thomas Kottukapalli are simply superb.