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Manoj Bajpayee, in a still from his latest release <i>Gali Guleiyan</i>.
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‘Gali Guleiyan’ is Disturbing and Powerful in Equal Measure

Gali Guleiyan directed by Dipesh Jain is a riveting watch.

Published
Movie Reviews
2 min read

‘Gali Guleiyan’ is Disturbing and Powerful in Equal Measure

The story of a man whose destiny is intertwined with the narrow lanes of the walled city he is stuck in, Gali Guleiyan is a disturbing and powerful psychological thriller. We meet a haggard Khuddoos (Manoj Bajpayee) , a man clearly pushed to a frightening brink. Khuddoos now lives by himself in a shabby little room full of what looks like metal junk.

There are wires and old tin boxes but a closer inspection reveals his obsession with tiny TV screens where he scans the CCTV footage of his decrepit neighbourhood with a frenzied urgency. It is only when his kind friend (Ranvir Shorey with the customary poise of a consummate actor) comes in with food and daily supplies that one realises it’s been a while since Khuddoos has had any contact with the outside world, an entity which in its own way torments him and yet he remains an obsessive voyeur of. One day he hears the screams of a young boy who is being ruthlessly thrashed. It’s a disturbing hook in the story that grabs our attention too.

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Khuddoos’ story parallels that of young Iddu (Om Singh). He is a quiet little boy who loves his mother (Shahana Goswami) and keeps coming up with names for his yet-to-be-born sibling. His father Liakat played by Neeraj Kabi is a butcher who takes pride in making his 11-year-old son Iddu get accustomed to the sight and sounds of an abattoir.

Dheere dheere aadat pad jaayegi” he keeps saying as the boy tries to toughen up to blood and dead animals. Iddu resists but silently. He wishes to run away after a particularly bad thrashing from his dad, his seething rage slowly taking over his entire being. Could Iddu be the one Khuddoos is consumed with? Is Iddu the one who needs to be saved?

Unencumbered by the need to stick to a linear narrative, director Dipesh Jain’s command never slips. Both Khuddoos and Iddu somewhere are a product of dysfunctional family ties that orphaned them in the first place and yet to which they remain tethered to.

The coiling narrow lanes of Old Delhi almost feature as a character in the film reflecting the unsettled state of mind of its protagonists. The suffocating shadows and darkness are dealt with finesse by cinematographer Kai Miedendorp.

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It’s the performances and the casting that truly lift up Gali Guleiyan’s cinematic experience. Manoj Bajpayee gives the kind of performance that defines an actor. With the weariness he harnesses, and his slouching shoulders and blank gaze, he erases the distance between an actor and the character. Neeraj Kabi as a ruthless father bullying his wife and kids never disappoints.

Sahana Goswami imbues her role with sensitivity and grace and the little star Om makes an impressively assured debut. Gali Guleiyan is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. It is disturbing and unrelenting in its approach but masterfully weaves together a tale of torment and scarred childhood.

Khuddoos is a man trapped and yet he never lets go of his innate humanity. It’s a riveting watch.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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