Gehraiyaan is an emotional film about love, deception, trust, betrayal, complex relationships, and moving on with the terrible facts of your past. While this isn’t the first time Bollywood has depicted infidelity on screen, the story has progressed, the characters have more depth, and it’s no longer only about desire.
A heady face of passion consumes Alisha, played by Deepika Padukone, a young yoga instructor, and Zain, played by Siddhant Chaturvedi, a real estate hotshot, from the moment they meet. As the romance develops, the couple finds themselves on the verge of falling off a cliff as things become increasingly complicated. Alisha’s cousin Tia, played by Ananya Pandey, is engaged to Zain, while Alisha is in a live-in relationship with her six-year partner Karan, played by Dhairya Karwa. Alisha discovers that the void in her life is filled by Zain, and they begin seeing one other. Unaware of this, Tia and Karan continue to adore their lovers with the same intensity as before. When Alishal urges Zain to declare their relationship to Tia, the mayhem ensues. The lives of all four people significantly shift as a result of the personal and professional chaos. A secret romance set against the backdrop of life’s complexity.
You can’t help but have high hopes when a director like Shakun Batra sets out to make a picture on dysfunctional and complicated modern-day relationships. Batra, sadly, fails to make an impression with Gehraiyaan. What starts out as a promising venture does not turn out to be so. Deepika Padukone’s outstanding performance is the one saving grace.
Alisha, plagued by worry and burdened by the baggage of a difficult childhood, is unable to let go of the demons that haunted her mother. People enduring the burdens of their parents’ love perceptions are depicted with stomach wrenching feelings. Even in his last picture (Kapoor & Sons), Batra’s honest observation of relationships and dysfunctional families is extraordinary. Nothing is on the surface. Through a difficult-to-narrate scenario, he attempts to understand complex human behaviour and its effects.
Performances and direction
Deepika Padukone remains unflappable even in the most heartbreaking scenes. Siddhant, too, holds his own in portraying a complex and conflicted character. Both are excellent in their performances, which call for their hearts to erupt and their faces to preserve a stony quiet. Ananya’s comfort in her role is delightful to watch, she seems to be playing herself. Dhairya Kavya dazzles with his natural portrayal as Karan, despite the director’s limited resources. Naseeruddin Shah is brilliant because he is Naseeruddin Shah. His appearance on screen is a breath of fresh air. Even though the movie’s dialogue isn’t particularly memorable, the only one you’ll remember is delivered by Shah’s character.
Shakun Batra has a sense of confidence in his filmmaking that no other filmmaker has been able to do in such a short time as him, having only directed 3 films. He is a master at not just understanding but also executing the emotions that drive his characters. He has honed his ability to arrange suspense on-screen by mainly relying on ambient noises (such as road noise, bustling tones of waves crashing, and so on). Batra decided to go as far as possible with this one, presenting his characters without any filters as they all reveal themselves one layer at a time.
This love story, which slowly unfolds like a thriller and lures you into its dark universe, could not have had a greater cast. The characters’ quiet is contrasted with the roaring of the waves. Like a ticking time bomb, you’re frightened of the consequences the two might face. The cinematography and sound complement the film’s subtly dramatic canvas. Scenes are constructed with many pauses and silences for us to interpret.
The album is already a hit, thanks to the soundtrack’s natural synchronisation with the aesthetic of the film’s visuals, whether it’s Gehraiyaan or Doobey. The songs with lyrics by Ankur Tewari and Kausar Munir have rousingly captured the essence of love, attraction, and perhaps even infidelity. Kabeer Kathpalia aka OAFF is in the centre of it all. Lothika Jha, Kabeer’s buddy from school in Ahmedabad, has sung both tracks, and she is a stunning new and original voice in the indie music circuit who is also making her Bollywood playback singing debut. The title song of Gehraiyaan is really an adaptation of an earlier English song called Frontline that Kabeer and Lothika wrote when the latter was grieving the loss of a family member.
While Indian viewers have matured enough to accept complicated and painful notions about modern relationships, a film as slow-paced as Gehraiyaan will be difficult to sit through. The tale, thankfully, picks up in the second half. The background score is only there when it is required. But when it does, it’s amazing.
The writing of Gehraiyaan does not live up to the expectations generated by the teaser. The length of the film only adds to the misery. 2 hours and 28 minutes is a long time for a film without a single laugh out loud moment. The film’s length, as well as its lack of clarity, stand out like a sore thumb. In the second half, the story runs off the tracks, leaving you wondering where it’s heading. It can become monotonous and exhausting after such a long period of play.