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Movie Review: ‘Gehraiyaan’ (Amazon Prime)

If you remember the incredibly nuanced ‘Kapoor & Sons’ of 2016, you’ll get a feel of what director Shakun Batra brings to his directorials. His debut ‘Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu’ (2012) was also a fun film but included some beautiful moments. So when it came to light that ‘Gehraiyaan’, his newest offering was bringing Deepika Padukone, Siddhant Chaturvedi and Ananya Panday together on screen, it was hard not to feel excited. When the teaser and trailers released, it was evident that the film had Batra’s stamp on it but does it actually fulfill the in-depth feels that title suggests?

Alisha (Padukone) is at a crossroads with her relationship and her life and really yearns not to feel so stuck. When her and her boyfriend Karan (Dhairya Kawra) meet her cousin Tia (Panday) and her new hubby-to-be Zain (Chaturvedi) after years, Alisha finds a connection with the latter. What follows is them growing closer and cheating on their other halves but how will things ever work and are these immediate fuzzy feelings really there to stay?

Batra’s directorial vision for ‘Gehraiyaan’ brings about another nuanced feeling film, with a few of those soul-searching moments and inner check-ins for the characters as the story goes on. The casting seems to be quite perfect which also elevates the story and Batra brings about some sterling performances. There are scenes which you will always remember and dialogues to match. The colour palette of the film is also calm and sombre, giving the treatment of stillness and deepness a little – or at least attempting to. There is a freshness about the film which Batra’s brought to it and this is a plus point which draws you in and keeps you there. There’s nothing starry or over-the-top and there are no songs with lip-syncing, which may otherwise have suggested a pretense to the overall feel that could have overshadowed the final product.

The casting for the film was always part of its excitement and the trailers teased what the audiences had in story. Padukone’s chemistry with Chaturvedi was supposed to be the sticking point. And although they do come together and create some sizzling jaw-dropping moments of passion, it feels like there’s something not quite connected all through. Padukone steals the show, as expected, as her performance as Alisha is not like any other we’ve seen before. Panday as Tia is decent in performance, her chemistry with Chaturvedi not quite hitting the notes it maybe should have. However, her chemistry with Karwa, who plays her childhood friend and Alisha’s boyfriend Karan, is definitely much more satisfying to watch on screen. They are probably the most interesting to watch on-screen as a pair because of their effortless feel. Chaturvedi’s performance is also solid and he gets the flirty, charming, cheating other half pretty right. The biggest issue comes when the character has problems careerwise which brings out another side to him very quickly – quicker than the audience expects really. He fits into that part well too but it becomes a little too far-fetched and fast. Karwa, making his full-fledged debut, although been seen in small roles previously, does extremely well creating a space for himself in this film, when the audiences may almost always be looking towards the more known actors. As Karan, he is a natural emotional author who is deflated a little because of his new book but he also shows love to Padukone and also the downside to a relationship which is showing signs of wear and tear. Karwa is a talent to watch out for, for sure. The other actors worth mentioning are Naseeruddin Shah, who plays Alisha’s father, who comes in at all the right moments with his light but effective performance. Rajat Kapoor as Zain’s boss is also decent but doesn’t make quite the impact in his short role.

Although there are so many good, solid things about ‘Gehraiyaan’ and even though it has the potential of staying on your mind, it somehow seems to fall short. It doesn’t carry the deepness on the level that one may expect and there are some holes in the overall story that you are really left wanting to fill. What’s Karan’s background and why is he the way he is – rather than just expecting an author struggling to write his book being someone who has inevitable ups and downs? Why does he keep Alisha in the dark so much? Why does Zain immediately get drawn towards Alisha? Why does their involvement feel so out of the blue? While it’s definitely not necessary for a snapshot of a film’s story to account for the building of every single character, it feels the only character in ‘Gehraiyaan’ that gets the opportunity to get the audience’s understanding – so to speak – is Alisha. And, yes, Padukone is the main pull of the film but the holes in so many parts of the story could have been filled for a more wholesome and satisfying viewing experience.

Watch ‘Gehraiyaan’ for a decent film about relationships and troubled and flawed characters portrayed beautifully. However, don’t expect to feel quite the depth that the title suggests. Things in this story are never quite overpowering enough or complicated enough and if they are, they really don’t feel so. Emotions are felt but change all the time and the characters very much seem to live in their own bubbles until the bubbles begin to overlap and collide. But when they do come into contact with one another, the fireworks that are expected never really happen. What actually happens is quick and beyond expectation. It changes the entire direction of the film and, in a way, takes away from the climax you may have been waiting over an hour for. Yes, one may call it unpredictable and different but others may not feel the film’s ultimate climax gives the audiences what they are searching the entire film for.

If you let go of the hope for a deep connection with the story or the characters before you watch this, you’ll welcome a film which is shot with utter enchantment and it will, in turn, make you feel absorbed in all the right ways. For the rest, you may well be left impressed but wholly underwhelmed.