Gulmohar: A Tale Of A Dysfunctional Family Propelled By The Presence Of Veterans

Sharmila, Manoj & Simran’s show!

Gulmohar (Hindi)

  • Cast: Sharmila Tagore, Manoj Bajpai, Simran, and Amol Palekar
  • Writer-Director: Rahul V Chittella
  • Producers: Vikesh Bhutani, Rahul Chittella, and Shujaat Saudagar
  • Music: Siddarth Kosala and Alan Demoss
  • OTT platform: Disney+ Hotstar
  • Runtime: 2 hours 12 minutes

There was a time when the portrayal of families was largely sugar-coated on the big screen. Everything used to be hunky dory until an outsider comes along and creates a rift.

For a long time, the majority of family dramas followed this template. However, this has changed in recent times thanks to directors like Zoya Akhtar and Shakun Batra.

Dil Dhadakne Do and Kapoor & Sons are examples of families where interpersonal relationships were shown on shaky grounds.

Gulmohar directed by Rahul V Chittella pretty much falls under the same space. There is also a semblance of Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding.

The big charm of watching the film lies in seeing veterans like Sharmila Tagore and Manoj Bajpai sharing screen space. Their parts are easily the best thing about the film.

However, the movie would have come out better if the director hadn’t tried to cram too many things.

Synopsis

Gulmohar begins with a get-together of the Batras. Kusum (Sharmila Tagore) is the matriarch of the Batra family. She leaves everyone baffled with the announcement that she bought a house for herself in Pondicherry.

She also declares that she won’t be moving in with her son Arun (Manoj Bajpai) into his new apartment. Kusum feels that she has done enough for her family and now wants to follow her heart.

Arun is quite rattled by her decision. But, being an obedient son, he doesn’t let his displeasure show.

Suraj Sharma plays Arun’s son Aditya who also wants to live separately from his wife. This leads to a strained relationship between father and son.

Arun’s biggest solace is his wife Indu (Simran). The twist in the tale here is that Arun is adopted. As a result, he always needs an affirmation that he belongs to the Batra family.

Amidst all this chaos, some dark secrets tumble out which threaten to shake the entire foundation of the family.

Explores interpersonal relationships

The best thing about Gulmohar is how Rahul V Chittella explores interpersonal relationships. Two tracks, in particular, stand out. One being Manoj and Sharmila Tagore, and the other Manoj and Simran.

The character of Kusum is someone that many modern women would identify with. Through Kusum, the director also touches upon the hidden desires of women.

The scene where Kusum talks to her granddaughter about her early days, marriage and motherhood is so endearing to watch.

The scenes between Manoj and Sharmila are also filled with a lot of warmth. We wish to see more of them.

A scene that particularly stands out is when mother and son go through the family photos together. The portions of Arun and Indu are another major highlight of Gulmohar.

There is an authenticity to their portrayal as a mature couple who have gone through many ups and downs. The scenes of Indu imitating her mother-in-law behind her back lead to some amusing moments.

Indu is the pillar who is holding everything together when the family seems to be falling apart. Simran as Indu is a treat to watch and she more than holds her own opposite both Sharmila and Manoj Bajpai.

The performances

Among the extended family, Amol Palaker is brilliant as the brother-in-law of Kusum. It is a role that is in complete contrast to Farzi. It is a delight to watch the senior actor embracing the grey shades of his role.

Not surprisingly, it is Manoj Bajpai and Sharmila Tagore who hold the proceedings.

Manoj Bajpai’s Arun is a complex part. But, as expected, he does full justice to his role. He makes the struggles of Arun so relatable.

Sharmila Tagore is elegantly personified as the progressive matriarch. She effortlessly charms her way through to the audience’s heart. She is brilliant in both the lighter and emotional bits.

Suraj Sharma as Aditya is one big minus. He comes across as mostly wooden and his passion to become an App developer hasn’t got the required fire.

The music composed by Siddarth Khosla and Alan Demoss is soothing. The ghazal number by Talat Aziz, in particular, stands out.

The drawbacks

However, Gulmohar is not just about the family dynamics of the Batras.

The director also looks into the lives of the staff employed at the villa along with an extended family.

A good example of this is the romantic relationship between the cook (Reshma) and the watchman (Jitender).

Their romance is very reminiscent of Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding. Initially, these portions have a certain charm. But, after a point, it hampers the proceedings.

There is also an attempt at advocating same-sex relationships. But this track hasn’t been intricately woven.

Verdict

Gulmohar is a treat for the fans of Manoj Bajpai and Sharmila Tagore.

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