Gulmohar Hindi Movie
Right from the first scene of Rahul Chittella's Gulmohar, you sense that this movie is about a dysfunctional family. The family is moving away from their Gulmohar villa after a long time. The movers and packers are expected to come in soon. There is a sense of disappointment among some members of the family, especially Kusum Batra (Sharmila Tagore). The gathering may make it seem like a close-knit family, but this is far from the case.
Arun Batra (Manoj Bajpayee) has a slightly cold relationship with his son Aditya (Suraj Sharma). You feel that these two are yet to break the ice. The same goes for Arun's wife, Indira Batra (Simran), and her mother-in-law, Kusum. There are a few more characters, and each of them has one issue or another to deal with. Initially, Rahul establishes all of these themes of the movie without a lot of lines. Sometimes, the unspoken or unsaid is a lot more powerful than the other.
The movie coasts along nicely up to a point with some family banter. But an early conversation between Kusum and Amol Palekar's Sudhakar Batra shows that there are more cracks in the family than meets the eye. Then comes the big reveal, the kind of which you see in an old Hindi film or even a TV serial. The twist in the plot is pregnant with possibilities, but Rahul settles for easy resolutions. It is just a whole bunch of mommy issues and daddy issues.
I cannot believe it when the second half of the film becomes a bit too talky, with a lot of monologues. The performances that seem organic initially start to become a bit artificial the further the movie goes. Take Sharmila Tagore's performance, for instance. In the second half, all there is is a person looking straight at the monitor and spouting monologues about the importance of family. This is not bad acting, but rather bad use of a fine actor. The performances of Bajpayee, Simran, Suraj, and Kaveri Seth may be consistently engaging throughout, but the narrative fails to make you invest enough in their characters.
There are sudden shifts between the central plot as well as the subplots involving Aadi's business life and the love life of Utsavi Jha. There is also a subplot about one of the housekeepers and a servant. These subplots are hardly related to the main story of the film and are always at odds with it. The only way they are made to seem connected is through Kusum's long speech about family being the pieces of a wall. If the pieces are not in order, the wall will break. I do not need the movie to tell me that. I would rather it be implied.
At one point, Kaveri Seth's Divya Batra tells Aadi to leave his 1970s sentiments behind and says that "even Bollywood has moved on" from these. However, Gulmohar is further proof that Hindi cinema still holds onto its traditions. This may not be a bad thing for some, but others who want freshness in Hindi cinema will find it a little underwhelming.