Small-scale political battles serve as a metaphor for larger issues in this drama from India. Duki Bana (Kay Kay Menon) is an angry political activist who lives and works in a Rajasthan college town, where's trying to drum up support for an independence movement that would put the royal family back in power.
Jadhwal (Pankaj Jha) is the current leader of the student government, whose charm doesn't always disguise his reputation as a bully.
Hoping to use the upcoming campus elections as a stepping-stone to launching a real-world political movement, Duki persuades Rananjay (Abhimanyu Singh), a student with links to the royal family, to run against Jadhwal, with his roommate Dileep (Raj Singh Chaudhary), a bright but gullible young man, helping to run the campaign.
But Rananjay has a pair of illegitimate half-siblings (Aditya Srivastav and Ayesha Mohan) who despise him and want his campaign to fail, while the upcoming election polarizes both the students and the faculty as its implications are felt outside the campus.
Gulaal was (along with Dev. D) one of two feature films from director Anurag Kashyap which were screened as official selections at the 2009 Venice International Film Festival.