According to the director Anurag Kashyap, this movie is dedicated to the song "Yeh mehalon, yeh takhton, yeh taajon ki duniya. Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai" and its lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi from the Guru Dutt movie Pyaasa (1957).
In this movie,Mahie Gill's character tells Kay Kay Menon's character about how she was in a pilot for a show on TV but it never took off.This possibly is inspired from Mia Wallace-Vincent Vega sequence of Pulp Fiction in which Mia was the one whose show's pilot wasn't picked up.Anurag Kashyap has publicly acknowledged Quentin Tarantino as his inspiration,hence it's likely that this scene was inspired from pulp fiction.
The censor board censored two dialogues from the movie - one referring to Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and a discussion about the origin of India's National Anthem.
The film was shot during festivals a lot because of the shoe string budget, which helped the producers save money for lighting and extras.
Drinks named as Democracy and Republic Beer are shown to suit the political theme of the movie.
The film was initially being produced by Jhamu Sughand but after 20 days of shooting due to some personal problems of Jhamu Sughand the shooting got halted. Gulaal was stopped midway along with Johnny Gaddaar (2007) and Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na (2008), the other two films of Jhamu. The former was picked up by Adlabs and the latter by Aamir Khan. Gulaal got stalled for 2 more years and then Zee Motion Pictures came in and backed the movie. This is how Gulaal got finished finally.
Various references have been made to the actress Tabu in the film in the form of a poster, a song (Ruk Ruk Ruk from Vijaypath (1994)) and a dialogue (where Mahie Gill's character asks Deepak Dobriyal's character if she resembles Tabu) as Anurag Kashyap had been a big fan of her.
Many of the actors are also part of the creative team. Raj Singh Chaudhary is the script writer, Piyush Mishra has scored the music and Ayesha Mohan is the Assistant Director.
The tune played by Kiran (Ayesha Mohan) on guitar in the meeting room is "Goodbye Blue Sky" from Pink Floyd's album "The Wall".
The movie has got rendition of Dinkar's poem "Ye dekh gagan mujh mein lay hai" from rashmirathi chapter 3, performed by Piyush Mishra.
In the movie there is a scene where Mahie Gill's character asks Deepak Dobriyal's character if she resembles Tabu, which is a reference to the actress Tabu. This is because many people in the industry at first glance have complimented Mahie Gill that she looks so much like Tabu, and even the actress Tabu herself has commented this. So Anurag Kashyap wanted to put this idea in the movie.
When Anuja enters the classroom to take a lecture, someone throws a paper ball at her. On the board, it's written 'nihilism'. That's probably inspired from 'The Big Lebowski'.
When Anurag Kashyap got to know that Ayesha Mohan played the guitar and sang, he made her character Kiran sing and play the guitar in Gulaal
Due to various reasons the movie took 7 years to get completed right from its scripting stages. It almost got shelved at one point in time.
In the movie, the first words of the song "Big Big World" (1998) by Emilia Mitiku is sung by Kiran (Ayesha Mohan) after her brother, Karan (Aditya Srivastava) shows their illegitimate Father out.
The black and white still in the movie showing Prithvi Bana's (Piyush Mishra) childhood, shows a poster of Jim Morrison, though he carried John Lennon's picture on his locket.
Nawazuddin was signed for the film but was dropped due to a misunderstanding about his price. Deepak Dobiyal ended up with the role.