The Great Indian Family
Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Hindi film The Great Indian Family which is now available in a theatre near you. And I have had to add the ‘theatre’ part because the marketing strategy of YRF is yet again under the scanner! One of the leading studios of the country, YRF, just do not believe in promoting their own films! This is particularly baffling because their films haven’t been bad at all, and with a little push, could well have done wonders at the Box Office. I do understand and fully endorse their sentiment of underpromoting films from the YRF Spy Universe like Pathaan or the forthcoming Tiger 3, because the star power often comes into play. But with films like Dum Laga Ke Haisha(which by the way had worked well), Meri Pyaari Bindu, Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar and now The Great Indian Family, there definitely needs to be some plan in place for them to fully succeed at the Box Office.
There were many things that weren’t going in the film’s favour from the onset apart from Vicky Kaushal who had tasted humongous success in the form of Zara Hatke Zara Bachke. In fact, it may well have been the case that the success of that film may have prompted the prestigious production house to finally push for the release of The Great Indian Family. Other than that, the film was directed by the notorious filmmaker Vijay Krishna Acharya who had previously received immense flak for his films like Tashan, Dhoom 3 and the biggest disaster Thugs Of Hindostan. So he had a point to prove as well with this mid-sized film. The topic of religion being tackled also was a potential controversy lurking on the sidelines, especially in today’s toxic environment. The film gave me vibes of the Paresh Rawal starrer Dharam Sankat, with the word also going around of the film being similar to the Yash Chopra directed film Dharmaputra. So the film had its challenges, and with a hint of skepticism I ventured into The Great Indian Family. Does it manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
The Great Indian Family follows the story of a young boy of Hindu faith whose life suddenly turns upside down when he gets to know that he was born in a Muslim household. The story here is interesting and supremely relevant in today’s times and it was quite enjoyable as well. Here I wish to add that neither the title of the film nor its promotional posters do any justice to the subject matter in hand which was wonderful and quite gutsy in today’s times. The screenplay standing at a moderate runtime of just over 110 minutes does make for a brisk watch which is entertaining and heartwarming at the same time.
The drama does open with a little prelude that does paint a pleasant picture about the protagonist in the viewers’ minds. The young protagonist born in a staunch Hindu household with the right mix of family members to aide his growth does form an interesting start with the right amount of religion thrown in the narrative. It is a quinessential small town Bollywood narrative that features a love story at the start, although I did feel that the love angle was rather unnecessary particularly with the strong messaging in hand. In between, there is a little setup of characters of a certain faith having a perception about people from the other faith, and it did account for a sweet little moment when both sides meet. The humour also is fairly on point here.
The proceedings are interesting and engrossing particularly after the introduction of the conflict that turns the table on the protagonist. A few minor flaws include the tone of the drama being slightly preachy and melodramatic with undercooked characters around the protagonist. But the content in itself is so strong that I did want to overlook a few flaws as well. However, the film slightly loses its way in the middle for a period of 15 odd minutes post the interval, whereas the focus should have been on exploring the cultural references of the two religions from the gaze of the protagonist, which to be fair was slightly touched upon. It was the love story unfortunately, that slackens the pace of the drama during this period.
The writers quickly recover from this minor blip to ensure that the slide is restricted. With the re-introduction of one of the characters, the drama is stabilized and that is when the wamth in the drama begins to spread. The extended flashback accounted for a heartfelt watch that soon hit home with the right kind of emotions creeping in. This was particularly true in the finale act wherein even a long monologue was so heartwarming and felt so inclusive that the messaging along with the emotional chord that it struck just hit home! Overall, the screenplay had its share of flaws but I chose to focus mainly on the positives and I was quite satisfied with the writing in that regard.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational with a little zing of religion that makes for an enjoyable watch. The music is pretty good although the songs do stall the flow of the drama. The BGM is decently impactful. The cinematography is good, the editing is quite crisp and sharp for most parts. The costumes provided to the characters are well thought out and designed. Director Vijay Krishna Acharya who had previously directed duds like Tashan and Thugs Of Hindostan, and was under the scanner for Dhoom 3, makes a thunderous comeback. It is safe to say that this is his best film till date that has its soul in place. He is able to create several heartwarming moments through the narrative and he ensures for an enjoyable watch which is thought provoking as well.
The performances are incredibly good by the ensemble cast although not all characters are well developed. Sadia Siddiqui as Hema, Alka Amin as Sushila and Bharati NP have their moments to shine. Ashutosh Ujjwal as Sarveshwar, Bhuvan Arora as Bhaata and Aasif Khan as Tulsidas are first rate. The veterans Yashpal Sharma as Pandit Mishra and Manoj Pahwa as Balak Ram are an absolute pleasure to watch and both of them are such polished actors that they light up the screen every time they appear. Kumud Mishra as Pandit Tripathi delivers such a wonderfully nuanced performance which is heartwarming and heartfelt. Srishti Dixit as Gunja is excellent despite a limited screen time. Manushi Chhillar as Jasmeet looks pretty and does a good job too. But it is Vicky Kaushal who yet again shines as Bhajan Kumar in what was a terrific performance overall. His innocence and sincerity make his character just so affable and the emotions that Vicky integrates in the drama just hits home! The year 2023 has been a phenomenal year for Vicky and I get wait for him to strike gold at the end of the year with the biopic of Sam Maneckshaw. That will be a killer of a performance(I can predict it right now itself) and a totally different version of Vicky. No Pressure! For the moment, his performance here is excellent!
The Great Indian Family is a wonderful drama with a heartwarming message on inclusivity and universal brotherhood that makes for a heartfelt watch. This was the film of the weekend for me that unfortunately released with zero marketing. Anyway, I have done my bit to raise eyeballs! Available in a theatre near you.