Gulmohar on Hotstar is the Indian version of This Is Us that we didn't even realise we needed!

Sakshi Sharma
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Gulmohar on Hotstar

In all of this hustle and bustle, sometimes all you need is a soulful, warm and fuzzy film that feels like home and Gulmohar on Hotstar offers precisely that while taking you on an emotional ride!

In a time full of murder mysteries, thrillers, realist-socialist dramas, dark comedies, and much more there comes a time when you just want a breather. Something that is not too casual but also something that isn't too heavy to follow, something that just flows and touches your soul. If you've watched This Is Us, you know what I mean, and if you haven't, half your problems will be cured by this show with a good cry sesh. And just like This Is Us, Gulmohar on Hotstar does the same job for us while being a lot more relatable.

The joint family of Batras living in the suburbs of Delhi in a massive 31-year-old family home suddenly has to leave it in four days since the builders are planning to plow down all of these houses to make space for the new trend of high-rises. It's interesting to see how a family of three generations run by a matriarch crumbles down the walls of small homes made under a massive one just as they prepare to say goodbye to walls they have forever lived in. As they celebrate their last Holi together in this home, Kusum (Sharmila Tagore) plans to move to Pondicherry, Arun (Manoj Bajpayee) and Indira (Simran) have bought a penthouse in Gurgaon hoping that they live with all of their kids but their son Aditya (Suraj Sharma) with his wife Divya (Kaveri Seth) wants to move out into a space of his own. Their daughter Amrita (Utsavi Jha) and the security guards Jeetendar (Jatin Goswami), Param (Chandan Roy), and the maid Reshma (Santhy Balachandran) are struggling with issues of their own.

Also Read: According to the Janta, Gulmohar felt like a warm hug!

The mellow poetic tone of the film is laced with reality

The best part of the film is that Rahul V Chittella knows what the direction and tonality of the film should be and portrays it with full confidence. With metaphoric soft frames by Eeshit Narain who has done a brilliant job on cinematography that flows so in sync with the film, on-point dialogues that are poetic yet so real by both Rahul V. Chittella and Arpita Mukherjee, exceptional production design by Mansi Dhruv Mehta who made me want the same house and costumes by Krish Khatri, and Sheetal Sharma who makes you fall in love with Indira's sarees, and theatre-like structure filmmaking with full clarity of the subject at hand, this film rarely falters and tugs at your heart. That's precisely why it reminds you of This Is Us.There is another connection too; the soulful melodic songs of this film are composed by none other than Siddhartha Khosla, the same person who gave the music for This Is Us! You can't help but fall in love with these tunes that are so rooted in Indian essence and work as a breath of fresh air amongst all the loud banging noise!

Irrespective of all the plot lines that we see in this one, right from adoption, parent-children relationships, relationship between spouses to a new love budding, the weakest one is the queer relationship which seems a little forced. The end definitely adds a flavourful fun twist though. I love how Gulmohar finds its balance and the sweet spot between poetry and reality, it's like mirroring our lives where sometimes our life is too real, and sometimes it feels so filmy. As soon as the film starts to feel too poetic, the brush of reality rushes in and blends in a perfect flavour with a touch of casual comedy here and there! Reshma's and Jeetu's romance starts in a Bollywood manner that we all love but the reality of the differences between them because of education or lack thereof makes it so worthwhile to watch.

Being a character-driven film

Gulmohar's strength lies in its characterisation dangling through all of the threads of various plots. Each character gets equal space and while the film doesn't deep dive into the lives of everyone, whatever is shown is more than enough for us to connect and find ourselves within them. Indira and her 10 arms reminds me of my mother when she is running from here to there to shift houses while dealing with the crazies of the home. Arun's anxiety, his journey of adoption, and his insecurity over his son leaving the house, Adi's dream of standing up on his own two feet and make his father proud is somewhere all of us kids and Kusum's fatigue with being the mentor-like figure all her life and keeping secrets, it was so easy to relate to every single one of them!

From a family member, a security guard to a maid, everyone gets enough breathing space to shine. And even Delhi with its ancestral broken-down structures, and the house becomes a character in itself, representing the past with the present and future. Maybe that's why the film will make you cry and go like this sounds like my life! The fact that it doesn't vilify anyone even someone like Sudhakar (Amol Palekar) makes you believe in the reality of this fiction because everyone is just purely human and reacting to the situation. My favourite characters are Indira and Param because they're so unapologetically themselves!

The film is gender sensitised rather than genderised

There are so many different males and females in the film but their relationship with each other is beautiful and sweetly explored so it is never in the face. There is a point in the film where Adi feels like less of a man because he is not earning but his wife is and he has been just simply waiting for his start-up to run its course for the past two years. When he shares this with his wife, Divya she quickly shuts him down with this male-ego thought. This thought is portrayed so beautifully in the film where it is represented as a passing thought because sometimes our inner conditioning makes us question ourselves.

There are more instances like Indira is a house maker but she's never belittled by it. Also when Jeetu thinks he's not capable of Reshma because she is literate and he is not, he feels smaller than her. The interactions between Kusum and Sudhakar and their separate homes tells us subtly about differences between how matriarchial and patriarchial families function. But it’s the relationship between Indira and Arun that I loved. Instead of playing stereotypically husband-wife roles, they are best friends and handle everything together.

Casting is so fresh and unique

Sharmila Tagore is a gem as Kusum, especially with the soft tone that she speaks in and I disliked Amol Palekar with my full heart, which means he completely nailed it. To see Manoj Bajpayee not giving gaalis is such a breath of fresh air and what more could be said about his acting? He is amazing with every character he plays. I mean to see an age-old guy hurt, anxiety-ridden, and crying in his wife's/ mother's arms makes your throat choke up. But the most interesting part of the film is putting up unknown faces with known faces like Manoj Bajpayee with Simran. This is so refreshing to watch and she is so good, it's not possible to not get reminded of your own mother while watching her. And all the other cast members as well from Suraj, Kaveri, Utsavi, Jatin, Santhy, Chandan, and others did an exceptional job!

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It's amazing how the film starts with a party sequence and ends with it but both are so different from each other. It's like you have come full circle where things started from a tense party to a joyous celebration. And each and every sensitive topic has been dealt with such subtlety that you feel like you have been on this journey with the Batras feeling like you just are watching your own family. The film ending on a happy note feels like the mark of one chapter being finished while others await. After all, life is a series of chapters full of hurdles that you cross and sometimes you need that happy ending more when things are bleaker than ever. And all we have in life are hope and love!

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