Gehraiyaan is much more than just a film on infidelity, it explores the complex emotional mess that transpires through generations.
In Little Things S4 there was a scene where Dhruv and Kavya are stuck in a boat in the middle of the water. And they discuss how we all irrespective of our fears yet somehow internalize some things that we might even hate from our parents. But that doesn't necessarily mean that we have to become the same. It's our choice to recognize this in ourselves and move past ahead it. Not exactly the same but on similar lines, Shakun Batra's Gehraiyaan seems to expand on this thought of idea with much more intensity, interpersonal mess, and complexities. It is more of a film that looks like an extension of Prateek Kuhad's song but on familyhood trauma that sometimes transpires through generations in which infidelity is a consequence. But the film with all its aesthetic mood, minimalism, cast, great music, and cinematography somewhere lacks in leaving a deep strong emotional and empathetic impact.
Alisha (Deepika) is in a long-term live-in relationship with her childhood friend Karan (Dhairya) who has quit his job in an ad agency to follow his pursuit of becoming a writer. Their relationship is at that stage where Alisha's anxiety, childhood trauma, and longing to do better are too deep enough for Karan's procrastinating attitude, hence quite in troubling waters. That's when Karan's good friend and Alisha's cousin Tia (Ananya) invite them to go on a holiday to their Alibaug house with her fiance Zain (Siddhant) on their yacht. Tia and Zain's relationship is going fine with her planning for their Tuscany wedding and him climbing the successful ladder of a construction business. Alibaug, Yacht, ferocious passion and their emotionally heavy baggage of their past lead Zain and Alisha much closer to each other ultimately leading up to an entangled mess of secrets and lies, heartbreaks, and a tragedy.
At what point should you stop doing something that works for you so that it doesn't become something that doesn't. That's something that the makers of Gehraiyaan should make a note of. Aesthetic mood, minimalism, casual dialogues (too much fuck you), metaphors (waves), fashion, class, and all such things work till a certain time. After a point of time, they feel forced, unnecessary, and don't give the necessary breathing space for the intensity of the film to work, hence making the film a tedious watch. Also, the sudden tonality shift between the two tiers of the film doesn't fit in together or add in to the experience, rather takes something out of it. What really works and connects you with the film is the refreshing music by Kabeer Kathpalia and Savera Mehta, flawless camera work by Kaushal Shah, color palette, and also moments of emotional baggage sharing (the scene between Naseeruddin Shah and Deepika Padukone about choices).
Shakun Batra's film looks like aspiring to be in the genre sphere of Call Me By Your Name, Marriage Story, Scenes from a Marriage, and more like this but still, it's miles away from it. But the film does an excellent job in keeping forth the point that it's not just jewelry that transpires through one generation to another but also emotional messes and complexities that become the baggage that children often carry with themselves. It keeps the whole idea of familyhoodness or rather being a family under a new trauma-therapeutic lens. But as for infidelity which has not been glorified but seems to be arising as a consequence of a past trauma that hasn't been dealt with for both Alisha and Zain, seems like a justification of their actions. And it also ends up being a mistake that is redeemable for one while not for the other. This begs me to think that while the film is bold enough in many aspects it's just not bold enough!
Deepika Padukone carries Gehraiyaan on her shoulders maybe because the maximum of the element is with her to play around with but still, her eyes and body language do embody Alisha so well. Siddhant Chaturvedi as Zain works well with what he has got as a philandering, adulterous man who is apparently irredeemable, hence is killed off (ouch!). And As far as the rest of the cast has to go from Ananya Panday as Tia to Dhairya Karwa as Karan act just as catalysts for probably Alisha's coming-of-age drama. So not much could be said about their acting since not much is seen or known about their characters. But making the best of a moment and shining bright is Naseeruddin Shah as Alisha's Father and having no impact at all is the wonderful Rajat Kapoor, in whose defense, it can be said that he really wasn't given anything at all to work with.
Even with all its flaws and its bold attempt, Gehraiyaan is a generative cinema that elicited a conversation around on not just one but many topics. Leaving you with not just a given constructed opinion but rather you constructing, debating, and discussing an opinion yourself. And this gets me to say that while I ended up liking the film for its bold subject I just couldn't deeply fall in love with it as I did with its music. Because while they picked up on the right nerve of the issues yet they couldn't get me to stay with any of it long enough to have an impact. And as for knowing about what the Janta felt about the film click on the link below!
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