What is the story about?
The piggy bank in the household of the Mishras in Uttar Pradesh is witness to the sweet-little nothings and episodes from a family that revels in its ordinariness. The mother Shanti Mishra believes that the men in their house have done little to relieve her from her domestic troubles. The happy, chilled-out father, Santosh Mishra, a clerk in the local electricity department, does his best to balance the interests of his sons and his better half. The sons – a 20s something Annu Mishra and a 15-year-old Aman Mishra – are at a crucial juncture in their lives. Annu’s various efforts to get his career going haven’t borne fruit yet. Aman has a key battle ahead with his board exams but can’t get himself to focus on his academic pursuits.
Anytime is a good time to watch Gullak, a show that never ceases to be relevant and can warm you with the nostalgia steeped in its treatment. Gullak explores the domestic concerns of a lower-middle-class family in the modern-day world amid the old-world charm of a suburb in Uttar Pradesh. Come to think of it, who would have thought that the occasional sight of the men dominating the kitchen at kitty party of a few 40-year-old women, the struggles in putting together a grocery list for the month, the politics about attending a relative’s marriage and the arguments about the ever-growing electricity bill could be show-worthy material?
The authentic depiction of fragile egos, eccentricities and quirks within small-towns is amusing to say the least. So much that a dispute arises because of a word that’s not mentioned in a wedding invitation, a patient at a free medical camp dismisses the credibility of a doctor because she doesn’t offer a soft drink after a checkup, a lady even tells that the so-called urban women use a ‘machine’ to apply sindhoor. A series of ants moving near the bathroom even gives rise to the speculation that a character may be diabetic. These are characters living in their shells, although their innocence wins your hearts.
In times like the pandemic where the world increasingly talks about the significance of the little things, the second instalment of Gullak feels like icing on the cake. The scenes in Gullak are mundane as much they are lively, undramatic as much they are beautiful and yet it doesn’t try too hard to romanticise/sugarcoat its ordinariness. The beauty in its writing is its self-aware quality – it isn’t blinded by the feel-good treatment and also underlines the patriarchy in middle-class households quite subtly. When the men in the house caution the diabetic mother to exercise regularly, she takes heed of their advice but also offers them a reality check of how they remain blissfully ignorant about sharing domestic responsibilities in the household.
The show affectingly mirrors the highs and lows in the equation between two male siblings with a reasonable age-gap. The casualness in their relationship is not to undermine the empathy and care they have for each other. The elder brother hopes that the younger one doesn’t make any of the mistakes he had committed in the past and there’s also a clash of egos when the younger one reminds that he is an adult in the making and need not be spoon-fed anymore.
The finale encapsulates the essence of togetherness superbly as the family gets ready for a photograph. The elder son going through a rough patch with his career gradually realises the challenges of adulthood, the younger one surpassing his board-exam hurdle stands up for brother in the vulnerable hour, the father forgives the son for an insensitive remark about his lowly government job while the mother is a calm witness to the resolution of the conflict among the men. All the characters, the parents and the children, have moments where they do some self-introspection even as the show stays within its lightweight zone.
Season two of Gullak works as well as its previous instalment, free from high-handedness, being a rare web show where multiple generations within a family can identify with it.
Jameel Khan is excellent as the father in his late 40s, dealing with three contrasting people in his household. His experience and maturity as a performer reflect in the more silent moments of the show, where he conveys his helplessness, disappointment and anger – if not for social distancing, this is a character you would not mind giving a tight hug. Geetanjali Kulkarni’s middle class-ness is a delight to watch, as she chides her sometimes-irresponsible sons for the items missing from the grocery list, curiously listening to the news that her gossipy neighbour and being at her sarcastic best while in conversation with her husband.
Harsh Mayar doesn’t exactly look like the 15-year old 10th class student but makes up for it with an effortless performance as the spoilt younger sibling. Vaibhav Raj Gupta gets what’s easily the best-written character in the season – the actor does complete justice to his busy character graph full of many crests and troughs. Sunita Rajwar capitalises big time on her dialogue delivery and unmatched body language for a brief yet impactful role. The supporting cast contributes to the authenticity of the sleepy and sometimes chirpy backdrop.
Music & Other Departments
Anurag Saikia’s music stays true to the vibe of the setting. Anand Bansal doesn’t let the locational limitations impact the quality of his cinematography and finds imaginative ways to liven up the frames. The compactness of the episodes is a relief, working individually and also as a whole. Durgesh Singh makes for a solid writer whose material is in the safe hands of a filmmaker like Palash Vaswani, gifted with an ability to see the beauty in the ordinary.
· Entertaining as long as it lasts
· Solid performances
· Intelligent writing, capable execution
· Gets slightly over-simplistic at times
· Not thematically any different in comparison to season one
Did I enjoy it?
Do I recommend it?