(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Soumik Sen’s “Gulaab Gang” wants to assure us, through its promos and marketing campaigns, that it speaks of women’s empowerment and the power they can wield against a corrupt and insensitive system.

On the contrary, this is a movie that does women’s empowerment a huge disservice — it depicts the protagonists as one-dimensional characters; equates justice with mob violence; and would have you believe that the punishment for a heinous crime is to slice off the perpetrator’s body parts.

There is so much sanctimony stuffed into “Gulaab Gang” that you find it hard to take anything in this 135-minute film seriously. Madhuri Dixit plays Rajjo, the fierce leader of a women’s group that has its own justice system and aims at standing up for victims of domestic violence or those oppressed by the dowry system. She locks up government officials who refuse to provide the village with electricity — and minutes later, breaks into a choreographed dance number.

For someone who opposes violence against women, Rajjo has no hesitation ordering her henchwomen to castrate a man accused of rape or attack with scythes hoarders who pilfer grains meant for the poor. The men, it would seem, are the enemy — weak, corrupt and unable to deal with a strong woman. Yet, the film’s main villain is Sumitra (Juhi Chawla), a caricature of an evil politician if there ever was one.

Sumitra is like the female version of many of Prakash Raj’s villainous characters. She arches her eyebrows, smirks at her minions and is apparently obsessed with Rajjo and her tiny village. The film follows the rivalry between the two women, but their motives are shady at best.