Rahul V Chittella’s latest outing on Disney+ Hotstar, Gulmohar, has been inspired by an actual incident: the sale of renowned director Mira Nair’s Delhi house. She says that a house is not just a house, but a home to generations of families, who leave behind memories, their secrets and the drama.
It is not very different in Gulmohar, which boasts of an impressive cast and an equally gripping plot line. The Batras have lived for generations in Gulmohar at Delhi. When they decide to sell the house to a builder, the family gathers for one last party there. This scene has been inspired by the party Nair hosted at her Vasant Vihar home.
Interestingly, as the goods are popped into cartoons, numerous family secrets pop out. Over the next few days, Kusum (SharmilaTagore), son Arun (Manoj Bajpayee), Arun’s wife Indu (Simran) and their son Aditya (Suraj Sharma) struggle with the consequences of what all have been said and, more importantly, what remains to be said, nay revealed!
Midway, Indu finds a will written by Arun father, which reveals a terrible secret. Arun is not a biological son, but adopted and so Gulmohar will go to his brother (Amol Palekar) and then his son. The father feels that ultimately it is the blood relationships that matter. When Indu finds the will and shows it to Arun, he is devastated and beyond words, and confronts his mother, Kusum.
Beautifully scripted and excellently performed, Gulmohar comes as a lovely piece of work after a long time. Sharmila comes back to the screen after a decade, and as the mother torn between guilt of having been a party to the will and her immense love for Arun, she will remain in memory for a long time.
As the son, who is shattered by this piece of revelation, Bajpayee performs with panache, and brings out the qualities of a man who is a bundle of disappointment. And at all fronts. His son, Aditya (another gripping piece of acting by Suraj Sharma), does not want to live with his father, and he is fed up with the daily bickering. In a powerful scene in a car, Arun tells his son that he could never think of talking to his own father like the way Aditya does. Here we see a clear case of generational divide.
Three fine pieces of acting: Bajpayee is par excellence, and we see Sharmila has still not lost her touch, and she is every inch what she was many years ago. Films like Aradhana come to my mind. Simran gives you the classic touch as a wife who strongly believes that her husband had been wronged. Her performance is controlled and understated.
Gulmohar, despite its large canvas, does not lend to any confusion. An immensely watchable family drama.
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