Starring: Sharmila Tagore, Manoj Bajpayee, Simran, Suraj Sharma, Amol Palekar, Santhy Balachandran, Jatin Goswami, Chandan Roy
Director: Rahul V. Chittella
‘Gulmohar’ begins at a moment which marks changing times in the Batra household, capturing the changing nature of family relationships in modern day society.
The film explores the dynamics of a joint family in an Indian context by creating a kind of fly-on-the-wall effect for the viewers. This understated storytelling by director Rahul V. Chittella is not only refreshing but also a powerful way of telling a multi-layered tale. Capturing various types of relationships, across multiple generations, the story skilfully tackles a myriad of individual and collectives tales and weaves them all together effortlessly.
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The very first scene shows the entire family getting together to share one last night in their family home of 34 years. As well as aptly introducing all the characters, this deliberately ironic scene captures the underlying fissures and tensions in the family landscape solely through impeccable acting, subtle gestures and clever camera work.
Perhaps this scene best describes the film as it captures the emotions and dynamics which often escape words.
‘Gulmohar’ is brought together by fantastic performances by the entire cast. Sharmila Tagore’s Kusum, the matriarch of the Batras, Manoj Bajpayee’s Arun, her son and “man of the house” and Amol Palekar’s Sudhakar, the bitter uncle who has too many misgivings, are all realistic characters with their own demons and backstories which unfold as the film progresses. While all relationships are portrayed beautifully, perhaps the one that tugs at your heart the most is the one between Arun (Bajpayee) and his wife, Indu (Simran). Their mutual love and respect, the trust built through many years of companionship and their quiet but strong supportiveness towards each other is truly a touching rendition of a successful marriage.
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Produced jointly by Star Studios, Autonomous Works and Chalkboard Entertainment, the film is written by Arpita Mukherjee and Rahul V. Chittella. Now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar, this slice-of-life drama is definitely worth a watch.