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Farhad Dalal
Farhad Dalal
4 Star popcorn reviewss


Thank God It Is Friday and this weekend does seem to be a lot brighter in terms of its new releases. And with a bunch of new releases to cover, lets get started! First up, I finished watching the new Hindi film Gulmohar which is now streaming on Hotstar. There is something about layered family dramas that always manages to attract me. Families are often that one place of constant love and support but at times not everything is what meets the eye. There are secrets buried for generations too!

When it did come to Gulmohar, I was really looking forward to watching the film simply for its starcast. Seeing Sharmila Tagore and Manoj Bajpayee onscreen together was a delightful combination, and an interesting ensemble around them too did make me eager on what the film has to offer. From the looks of it, it did seem in the Kapoor and Sons or Cake space and given that I am a fan of layered screenplays, I did have high hopes from Gulmohar. So then does Gulmohar manage to impress, lets find out.

Story & Screenplay

Gulmohar(its name also has an element of calmness to it) follows the story a family who need to vacate their homes in 4 days amidst some of the family secrets which are spilled in the arena. The story here is interesting and subdued(in a good way) with its core emotion of attachment and restarting being the ones of importance. Earlier in the week, I had watched the Spanish film Alcarras which in a totally different setting had a similar core emotion to begin with. But in Gulmohar, there are layers of subtext too. The screenplay standing at a 130 odd minutes does make for a pleasant watch with a tinge of that feel-good vibe in a drama which is layered and textured.

The drama where does begin with a farewell party featuring plenty of guests together. Here the viewer is a by-stander, almost being allowed to eavedrop into their conversations. Although the entire family is together, there are pockets of different conversations going on which is reminiscent of the opening wedding scene of The Godfather in a totally different context. From the conversations, you as a viewer can clearly judge that the core of the conversation is of vacating the house in a few days while some of the other conversations are about the personal spaces that the family members find themselves in. The beauty here is that each of the conversations branch out into subplots of their own as the drama does unfold.

The proceedings are engaging and engrossing and quite breezy in its approach. The decision to have polished conversations beneath which there is a layer of secrets and insecurities is testimony of many families who are happy on the outside but hold a mountain of pain and insecurities within them. In between, there is a beautiful love story that also forms a part of the narrative along with a character suffering from an indecision of pursuing a startup or taking up a job to financially remain independent. Therr is clearly a lot going on here.

I did like the sensitivity with which the subject was handled particularly the LGBTQ angle which was so beautifully normalized. Slowly but surely as the secrets start to pour out, the drama does get intetesting without having a paradigm shift tonally. There are almost hints thrown in the narrative on the potential conflicts in store before they implode gently. And a couple of the strongest aspects of the screenplay which is why the drama does work big time are the world building and the characterization. The former unfolds at a leisurely pace that does allow the audience to imbibe a lot of the equations, and the latter was equally impressive with each of the characters having the utmost importance in the drama.

The events leading up to the final act are interesting with just a pinch of complaint from my end. The resolution did feel a tad too simplistic but given the time constraint of the medium, I did understand where the writers were coming from. The ending scene too did have the whole family together, just like the beginning, but the vibe was more colourful and accepting as compared to the grim opening sequence. Even the reference to Holi was beautiful with good triumphing over evil, but the good and evil here being within us. In many ways, the fire of Holika is also a metaphor to make a fresh start by burning down all your sorrows and insecurities which is pretty much what this screenplay stands for. Overall, the screenplay is beautifully penned, being well restrained with the right kind of emotions sprinkled into the drama!

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are conversational and there is a certain sense of calmness to them that really makes for a subtly nuanced and impactful watch. The music is beautiful and it does blend really well with the drama. The BGM is subtle and textured by almost allowing the drama to simmer in its complex notes(given that the drama too was about complex relationships). The cinematography and the colour grading are spot on, the editing is quite good too. Director Rahul Chittella does a fabulous job in treating this delicate subject with utmost sensitivity. His ability in trusting the viewers to imbibe the drama is testimony of his incredible skills as a director. Very impressive!


The performances are absolutely smashing by the ensemble cast. Talat Aziz, Sanjina Gadhvi, Danish Sood, Hiba Qamar, Kanishk Seth, Varun Narayan and Devika Shahani have their moments to shine. Tripti Sahu, Chandan Roy and Abhinav Bhattacharjee are first rate despite a limited screentime. Sriharsh Sharma as Kishore is impressive in his role as is Anuraag Arora as Kunal who essays the role of his father. Nargis Nandal as Payal is pretty good. Santhy as Reshma is just so beautifully restrained and expresses a thousand words through her eyes. Jatin Goswami as Jeetu is earnest and endearing in a beautifully aching role. Gandharv Dewan as Irfan is brilliant to watch.

Utsavi Jha as Amu essays her character with a lot of sensitivity and dignity. She was excellent here. Kaveri Seth as Divya is wonderfully restrained in such a beautifully written role. The amount of empathy that she does bring to the table was heartwarming. Suraj Sharma as Aditya is superb in a role that did require him to internalize a lot. The character had to deal with a lot of insecurities(and unsaid peer pressure) and it was beautifully represented through his character.

Simran Rishi Bagga as Indu was again a character of few words, almost tough on the outside but tender within. Brilliantly portrayed. It was a pleasure to watch to veterans Sharmila Tagore and Amol Palekar onscreen together. They are both well restrained and understand the nuances of their respective characters really well.

Manoj Bajpayee gives another timely reminder on what a prolific performer he is(not that he needs to prove anything now). The character of Arun was such a complex character that needed precision without which it was easy to go overboard and Manoj Bajpayee is just so incredibly good here. He holds himself back in a couple of scenes where expressing himself with restraint in another. It was another acting masterclass from him!


Gulmohar is a nuanced and textured take on complex relationships with incredibly good performances that comes with my highest recommendation. Available on Hotstar and Highly Recommended.

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