‘Gulmohar’: Cast & Crew
Director: Rahul V. Chittella
Cast: Sharmila Tagore, Manoj Bajpayee, Simran, Suraj Sharma, Amol Palekar, Jatin Goswami, Chandan Roy, Santhy, Anurag Arora, Devika Sahani, Talat Aziz, Vinod Nagpal, Sriharsh Sharma, Kaveri Seth, Nargis Nandal, Tripti Sahu, Utsavi Jha, Gandharv Dewan, Varun Narayan
Available On: Disney+ Hotstar
Duration: 2 Hours 11 Minutes
The Batra Family has been living in a house named Gulmohar Villa for many generations. One day, a party is organised in the house and all the family members are in attendance. At the party, the matriarch (Sharmila Tagore) announces that she has bought a new house in Puducherry and moving on to stay there. This happens soon after her decision to sell the existing Gulmohar Villa, where all her children and grandchildren grew up. This announcement of her moving to Puducherry creates chaos among family members, who are already unhappy with her decision of selling Gulmohar Villa. Will the others in the family manage to save the Gulmohar Villa? Will they be able to convince the matriarch not to sell? Will they be able to stop the matriarch from moving to Puducherry? Will they ever have a family get-together again? Or will this final family get-together bring a lot of skeletons out of the cupboard? Will the joint family get broken up into nuclear families? Well, for all these answers you’ll have to watch the movie.
Manoj Bajpayee once again manages to come up with a stellar performance. He very nicely brings a balance between a frustrated father, a caring husband, and a misunderstood son. It's sheer perfection. The scene in the climax where he has an emotional burst out is so beautifully portrayed that you end up forgetting that he is Manoj Bajpayee and start seeing your own self or your father in that place. His performance is so life-like that it's too hard not to see your own family in that Gulmohar villa.
Sharmila Tagore returns to the screens after 13 years and she is still the sweetest of performers onscreen. She plays to her comfort zone and manages to pull off a performance that you’ve seen from her in films like ‘Break Ke Baad’ or ‘Viruddh’. There are a few breakout scenes where you get to see the classic Sharmila Tagore antics, but a bit more of them wouldn’t have been bad. Overall, a great comeback, and we wouldn’t want to wait for another 13 years to see her once again on screen.
Simran played such a measured portrayal of an ideal Indian bahu, and mind you, I am not talking about the bahus of Ekta Kapoor’s serials. Simran's performance is of a modern-day wife who is so caring for her husband and manages to keep the family together and not fall apart. She knows that there are some flaws in her mother-in-law, but she loves her irrespective of those shortcomings. She knows the nitty gritty of the bond between the father and the son, and why they’re conflicting, but never tries to over-empathise the situation and tries to stay neutral and pushes both to solve out their issues. She is like goddess Durga with 10 hands managing to do everything in one go and still managing to accept her inability to have missed out on a couple of chores. Her character is unabashedly likeable, and you would invariably end up seeing your own wife or your mother in her.
Amol Palekar, who is present in the least amount of screen time, manages to leave you craving for more. You have always seen him being the good common man, and when you see shades of negativity in him, you're, sort of, not liking it. But at the same time, you also know that what he’s saying isn’t completely wrong. It’s not that he is an evil person but had the makers explored his backstory a bit more, audiences may have figured out why he is so irritable all the time. Amol Palekar manages to make you feel so pissed at his character, that in retrospect, you end up feeling what a great performance it was. He was meant to make you angry and in a few short scenes, he manages to achieve that to perfection.
Suraj Sharma is a total waste. He barely has scenes, and his character’s story isn’t explored to the extent that it should have been.
The same is the case with the character of Chandan Roy. He has been exceptionally good in projects like ‘Panchayat’ and ‘Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke’, but somehow with so less screen time, even he was not able to open up his wings properly and showcase his talents.
The rest of the cast didn’t have any noteworthy performances but were decent in their characters.
‘Gulmohar’: Script, Direction & Technical Aspects
Eeshit Narain’s cinematography is the best thing about ‘Gulmohar’. He has managed to showcase every character and their rooms in a different light. He has brought out the feel of living in a huge bungalow yet how every room becomes a separate nuclear family in itself. That feeling is brilliantly shown with subtle layers. To add to that the use of a soothing filter to make sure that all the tones in the film stay neutral and don’t make you feel judgemental about who’s right and who’s wrong is fantastic.
Tanupriya Sharma did well to keep a family drama limited to just over 2 hours. But sadly, it could have been chopped even a bit more. Some unnecessary montage-based songs could have been trimmed, which could have lessened the screen time below 2 hours. To add, there are lots of subplots which could have been shown more and that could have brought out the woke nature of the backstory to perfection.
Unfortunately can’t just blame Tanupriya Sharma for missing out on a big opportunity with some of the subplots. Director Rahul V. Chittella too needs to hold equal blame for the same. He has tried to present an age-old story, which is laden with problems that are faced by almost every Indian household and not just in today’s times, but it’s been happening for decades. What could have actually made the film stand out were the subplots, which were actually quite woke and had a current-day flavour in them. The lesbian angle of the granddaughter, the reason behind why the grandmother decided to break the family in Jamshedpur and shift to Delhi, the unsaid friendship between the grandmother and the party singer best friend, the backstory behind why the younger grandfather decided to play the villain in the entire scheme of things, the yes-no game played by the husband and wife, the father-son’s broken bond over a cycle ride, etc could have been some great plots to have been explored more. That would have given the story its necessary meaning much better. Sadly, we were belted out a very safe and average screenplay, which had a very predictable scheme of things.
Written by Rahul V. Chittella and Arpita Mukherjee, the basic plot of the film is very predictable. But what could have made the film stand out were the woke concepts. As you’re setting the film in today’s times and not setting it in the 1990s, you could have very easily explored more on the woke concepts rather than drag on the ‘kahani ghar ghar ki’, which people from the 1960s must have also seen, from the 1970s must have also seen, 1980s must have also seen and so on. So, the predictability of the plot could have been cut down by focusing more on the wokeness and less on the nostalgic feel of the story.
The music by Siddhartha Khosla is utterly forgettable. There is not a single track that you would remember while walking away after the film gets over, and this includes the Holi song, ‘Hori Re’, which could have been so well marketed considering the film was released over the long Holi weekend. The songs don’t create an impact that’s necessary and seem absolutely mediocre. However with the background score, definitely he manages to make you go teary-eyed a bit in some of the deeply emotional scenes.
‘Gulmohar’: Can Kids Watch It?
‘Gulmohar’ touches some of the most woke concepts of today’s times, but at the heart, it’s a ‘kahaani ghar ghar ki’. The story of generational gaps happens in every household with the sons not able to understand the fathers and vice versa. With Manoj Bajpayee at the helm of it, ‘Gulmohar’ manages to bring forth a family drama that’s drenched in too many cliches, but somehow it manages to make your eyes numb with its emotional touch. It’s an Average Watch, which gets saved by some brilliant performances. I am going with 2.5 stars.