There was a lot of anticipation around Shakun Batra’s film ‘Gehraiyaan’, since the titillating kissing scenes in the trailer had generated enough buzz amongst the audiences, and the film was marketed for its aesthetically shot lovemaking scenes, and an image was built, as if audiences would unravel some hidden meaning behind such scenes, finally, mirroring how Hollywood views the concept of intimacy.
But, after watching the nearly three-hour-long story of four young adult Indians from upper-middle class/rich families, who have the luxury of time and the privilege to explore their emotions and desires, ‘Gehraiyaan’, feels like an opportunity missed to get into the depth (pun intended), of the real reasons and circumstances behind the complexities in human relationships.
What’s It About?
Fairly simple plot: A 30-something Alisha, who hits the boring phase in her six-year-long relationship, with Karan, an aspiring writer who quit his job in advertising to pursue his dream of writing a novel, finds herself attracted to her cousin Tia’s fiance, Zain, a successful real estate developer.
Alisha sees Zain as the key to her freedom after feeling stuck, for years, because of a childhood trauma of witnessing her mother die by suicide, for which she forever blames her father. Zain meanwhile, too is attracted to Alisha, but cannot leave Tia, because of her father who helped him in his entrepreneurial efforts, and that ends up serving as the potential climax in the film, from where things move for both of them.
The performances are fairly convincing, despite the doubtful circumstances and realities they find themselves in. Deepika Padukone carries the emotional arc of her character pretty well, as Alisha, and enunciates wonderfully well as someone who wants to run away from the reasons she believes lead to her childhood trauma, without attempting to embrace the pain or the real truth behind the trauma.
Siddhant Chaturvedi Zain, a middle-class boy who witnessed domestic violence as a kid, grows up to be the hotshot realtor falls madly in love with Alisha, does justice to the eccentricities in the character. Ananya Pandey as Tia, Alisha’s cousin who carries her father’s business successfully, in many ways like Alisha’s boyfriend Karan, stays in the periphery, constantly finding herself to blame in every situation, gives a forgettable performance.
The entirety of the film reeks of a long, lone and pessimistic approach with dimly-lit shots and grey skies, mostly, which probably is to invoke a certain kind of pain and sadness throughout the film. But the lack of hope, at least until the end, is unsettling, but the lack of relatability fails to give it any direction, making it drab, dull and disappointing watch.
The Final Verdict
While the story looks like an honest exploration of the highs and lows of complexities in human relationships, it painfully misses the point of including the circumstances and the privileges that come along with it. Acknowledging the privilege to be able to delve into flurry of emotions that are a result of complex human relationships, especially in a country like India, where majority don’t have that luxury, is completely missing from the film, which otherwise, tries to paint an empathetic picture of infidelity.