Gulmohar review: Veterans in fantastic form

Balakumar Kuppuswamy
5 Min Read
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Gulmohar Review

Gulmohar movie is directed by Rahul V Chittella. It stars Sharmila Tagore, Manoj Bajpayee, Suraj Sharma, Amol Palekar, , Simran, Talat Aziz, Kaveri Seth and Utsavi Jha.

Gulmohar movie review

Sometime back, in an interview, ace director Maniratnam said that if you manage to cast the right persons for the right roles, film direction becomes that much easier. It is a truism that debutant director Rahul V Chittella seems to have imbibed pretty well. For, in Gulmohar, which is now streaming on Disney+, the casting is near perfect, especially the veterans Sharmila Tagore, Manoj Bajpayee, Amol Palekar, and Simran being in great fettle.

These senior actors bring great believability and affability to characters that are essentially rooted in most Indian middle-class families. Gulmohar is, at one level, a love letter to families, the very many variegated individuals that make up for living inside houses. The good thing about this tale, which we reviewers are duty-bound to describe as ‘tender’, is that it does not sugar-coat or over-romanticise families or relationships. Things are flawed, and people are shown with warts all. Except the gaze is not critical but a matter of fact. 

The story, in its setting, harks back to Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding, which is not entirely surprising given that director Rahul had apprenticed in that film. Also, in a further nod to Mira Nair, the titular Gulmohar villa in this film is owned by her family.

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Gulmohar review: Veterans in fantastic form 5

The film takes off beautifully from the family celebrations of the Bhatras, who have decided to sell off their sprawling and beautiful South Delhi villa. But the fun and bonhomie are brought to a halt when the matriarch of the family, Kusum (Sharmila Tagore), breaks it to the family that she will not shift places with them but instead will move alone to an apartment in the distant Puducherry. The penny drops then and there.

Her son Arun (Manoj Bajpayee) is distraught with his mother’s decision. He, a doting son, is already unhappy with his son Adi’s (Suraj Sharma) decision to live separately and make his life on his own. His wife Indu (Simran) is his only bulwark now. And other familial equations come into play.

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There are also Arun’s daughters, Amrita and Payal (Utsavi Jha and Nargis Nandal). One is a singer, and the other is married and pregnant. Then there is the patriarchal maternal uncle Sudhakar (Amol Palekar), who has difficulty wrapping his avuncular head around modern ethos and living. And there is a gaggle of maids too. As they all await the major inevitable churn in their lives, their best and worst come out organically.

With so many characters, there are myriad equations and interpersonal lines. The director shows that he has the heft to handle such complicated setups in a nuanced and layered way. He doesn’t tip-toe around issues and, in fact, bungs in a lot of contemporary topics into the story. But as with families, this film is about people and their performances.

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Gulmohar review: Veterans in fantastic form 7

Sharmila Tagore is elegance personified in looks and performance. Her exchanges with her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter are warm and wistful. Manoj Bajpayee as a son and a father, has a role that calls for rare understanding- and he exhibits it with aplomb. Simran brings her role dignity and poise that can be termed agreeably old-school. Amol Palekar has a character that would be easy to hate. But his performance of it is such that you become empathetic and understanding. 

The second half, and some subplots, come off as being undercooked. But by the climax, you become part of the Bhatras family. That’s the film’s success. 

The Hindi film Gulmohar streams on Disney+

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Gulmohar Review 1

Director: Rahul V Chittella

Date Created: 2023-03-03 12:42

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Ex-Editor News Today. Humour Writer. Now freelancer, gun for hire on TN, Sports, Films. Written for CricketNext, Yahoo and TechRadar.
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