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‘Gulmohar’ Review: Sharmila Tagore Film Is a Mature Look at the Idea of Family

'Gulmohar', starring Sharmila Tagore, Manoj Bajpayee, and Simran released on Disney+ Hotstar.

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Gulmohar

‘Gulmohar’ Review: Sharmila Tagore-Starrer Is a Mature Exploration of the Idea of Family

Over the past decade, Bollywood has been moving away from its idea of 'family'. In an Indian setting, most families were supposed to be perfect, with threats often external and easily vanquished. Rahul Chittella's Gulmohar isn't interested in that Utopia. 

'Gulmohar', starring Sharmila Tagore, Manoj Bajpayee, and Simran released on Disney+ Hotstar.

Manoj Bajpayee and Simran in a still from 'Gulmohar'. 

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

The filmmaker makes the interesting choice of using a party to introduce the viewers to the entire family. As the party progresses and people continue to mingle and gossip, fractures in the Batra family become evident.

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Arun Batra (Manoj Bajpayee) is grappling with the fact that his mother Kusum Batra's (Sharmila Tagore) decision to sell their ancestral home is going to drive his family apart, made even worse by the fact that his son Aditya (Suraj Sharma) and daughter-in-law Divya (Kaveri Seth) want to live in their own home.

'Gulmohar', starring Sharmila Tagore, Manoj Bajpayee, and Simran released on Disney+ Hotstar.

Suraj Sharma and Kaveri Seth in a still from 'Gulmohar'. 

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

At first glance, Gulmohar is not just about family, but agency. And beyond that, how different generations react to this need for agency, no matter who demands it. 

Bajpayee is magnificent as always on screen - watching him express complex emotions with a serene intensity is a delight. Sharmila Tagore, making her OTT debut with the show, tugs at the heart, both from a sense of nostalgia and empathy. In Kusum Batra's efforts to capture a few more memories with her family, Sharmila Tagore draws the audience in over and over again.

'Gulmohar', starring Sharmila Tagore, Manoj Bajpayee, and Simran released on Disney+ Hotstar.

Sharmila Tagore as Kusum Batra in 'Gulmohar'.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Further, Simran as Arun's partner, the strong-willed Indira Batra, is incredible; and perhaps my favourite character. The actor glides through her scenes, making it near impossible to resist the urge to try and dissect her character and understand it better.

Credit also goes to writers Rahul Chittella and Arpita Mukherjee for writing family ties between women that go beyond the dated saas-bahu tropes.

Despite all their wealth and access, nobody in the Batra family seems to enjoy true comfort. And yet, the show doesn't make the mistake of telling the audience that this privilege means nothing.

'Gulmohar', starring Sharmila Tagore, Manoj Bajpayee, and Simran released on Disney+ Hotstar.

A still from 'Gulmohar'. 

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

By introducing the staff employed at Gulmohar, the filmmaker explores the very cogs that keep the house running. The show delves into how this family's conflict even affects the staff, through no involvement or fault of their own. At the same time, the filmmaker delves into caste conflict and bigotry in Indian families.

Santhy as Reshma Saeed, Jatin Goswami as Jeetendra Kumar, and Chandan Roy as Param form the core of the film. The way they navigate the Batra family's issues while also dealing with problems of their own is portrayed intelligently. And a large part of the credit for this goes to the actors.

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As a film, Gulmohar is perhaps the perfect example of pacing. Even though the story progresses at a languinous pace, it's gripping enough to hold your attention. A queer love story doesn't get the mature exploration that it deserves but the other threads it tugs at are enough to not want to write it off.

Beyond that, Some sub-plots might threaten to derail the viewing experience for you but if you keep at it, the film doesn't disappoint.

'Gulmohar', starring Sharmila Tagore, Manoj Bajpayee, and Simran released on Disney+ Hotstar.

Sharmila Tagore in a still from 'Gulmohar'.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Gulmohar is an immensely watchable film with a cast that holds every thread together in a story about a family that is hanging on by one. 

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