Gulmohar Review: A dysfunctional family, their secrets, pleasant and unpleasant memories open hidden chambers in the mind. Rahul V. Chittella’s debut feature, Gulmohar, starring Sharmila Tagore and Manoj Bajpayee, is about all this and more.
Streaming on Disney+Hotstar, Gulmohar celebrates the healing brought about by kinship, while it confronts the trauma of disruption driven by quirks of destiny and individual choices.
Choppy past, tense present
The film follows an affluent Delhi family that struggles to stick together as their choppy past casts a shadow on their uneasy present. The family is dealing with insecurities and a life-altering event. What makes this typical family special is the disarming simplicity and impressive depth in thescreenplay by Chittella and Arpita Mukherjee.
Gulmohar is marked by some stupendous performances by Sharmila Tagore, Manoj Bajpayee, Simran and Amol Palekar. They lend weight to the intimate, insightful narrative through a wide spectrum of emotions with skillful precision.
The director also brings out the best from the younger actors, notably Kaveri Seth, Utsavi Jha and Santhy Balachandran. The latter brilliantly lives out the character of a self-effacing housemaid. Her story is inextricably intertwined with that of the family and she fits in her role with commendable ease. Also in the film is Suraj Sharma, who delivers a flawless turn.
Chittella has a way with actors
Then there are Jatin Goswami and Chandan Roy (two migrants to the city who work in the Batra household) and Anurag Arora as a key member of the extended family. Chittella, Mira Nair’s producing partner on The Reluctant Fundamentalist and A Suitable Boy, clearly has a way with his actors.
Director of photography Eeshit Narain shows the turmoil and uncertainties of the characters brilliantly. He is well supported by editor Tanupriya Sharma.
Gulmohar may be a melodrama but its beauty is unmissable. Manoj Bajpayee is in immaculate form. And Sharmila Tagore returns to the screen after a hiatus of more than a decade, Gulmohar is a family treat not to be missed.
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