Gulmohar | Cast: Sharmila Tagore, Manoj Bajpayee, Amol Palekar, Simran | Director: Rahul V Chittella | Hindi | Disney+Hotstar
For anyone who has endured the pain of losing a beloved home, watching Gulmohar will be a soothing balm. For anyone who has not known that trauma it will be an opportunity to understand that the houses we build are not the same as the families we make. Rahul V Chittella’s debut feature film catches a family that has just sold its house and is spending the last few days before they go their separate ways. There is a mother who wants to live her last days in Puducherry in a house she has bought, a devoted adopted son who has reluctantly sold the house to buy a penthouse in Gurgaon, his three children, and his Durga-like wife who keeps everything afloat. Chittella has found the wonder in an ordinary middle-class story, down to the love affair between the helpers. When does a family home become a place of hope and happiness, where everyone eats together at the dining table to a building where everyone retreats into the privacy and solitude of their own bedrooms? A gentle rebuke to those with “brashth buddhi” (corrupt minds); start-ups that won’t start in India Shining; and the choices we make versus the choices we inherit. Manoj Bajpayee, as the son Arun Batra, shows us yet again why he is such a consummate actor, while Sharmila Tagore is every bit the grand dame with a touch of naughtiness. A house that is slowly stripped of its lovingly mounted photographs, its stellar mirrors and its canvases carrying memories, the nails left behind, the barren bookcases, even the echo of conversations in an empty house, Chittella’s Gulmohar has it all.
Why watch it ?For its deep emotions and its pure heart
“History will repeat what I record,” says Abul Fazl to Murad, one of the three sons of Akbar who are in the race to succeed him. The Mughals invented Game of Thrones much before George RR Martin dreamed of it and HBO recreated it for television. Abhimanyu Singh gives flight to his imagination, Anand Neelakantan and Christopher Butera write its racy plot, while remaining very much rooted in the history of the period, to bring to life both the greatness and weakness of Akbar, and his empire. There is Salim (Aashim Gulati), a young man steeped in alcohol and sex, in love with Anarkali (Aditi Rao Hydari), his father’s slave, in a complete reversal of K Asif’s Mughal-e-Azam (1960). There is Murad (Taha Shah Badussha), able in war, and soaked in cruelty. And there is Daniyal (Shubham Kumar Mehra), religious, faithful, a plaything of Badayuni, who has a running feud with court poet Abul Fazl. There are the women of the empire, among them Jodha Bai insistent that her half-Rajput son Salim should ascend the throne. There is Maharana Pratap, the proud Rajput, who refuses to accept defeat. There is quite a bit of raunchiness and wilful violence, including by a young Akbar who thinks nothing of slaying Hindu women and children. It ends on a cliffhanger, as every engaging series should.
Why watch it? Blood, sex, and Naseeruddin Shah. What’s not to like?
Anxiety to Stay Relevant Amit Khanna
Return to Greatness Zakia Soman
‘This Is Not Fusion’ Akhil Sood