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High on emotions and performances Starring: Sharmila Tagore, Amol Palekar, Manoj Bajpayee, Simran, Suraj Sharma, Talat Aziz, Kaveri Seth, ...

High on emotions and performances

Starring: Sharmila Tagore, Amol Palekar, Manoj Bajpayee, Simran, Suraj Sharma, Talat Aziz, Kaveri Seth, Suraj Sharma

Rating: 4 stars

What’s with our veteran actresses eager to play characters coming out on the OTT platforms? First it was Madhuri Dixit last year on  Amazon Prime’s “Maja Ma’ and now Sharmila Tagore in Disney Hotstar’s ‘Gulmohar’.

Ostensibly revolving around the Batra family’s sprawling Delhi bungalow, Gulmohar stands for family integrity and togetherness which now seems to be crumbling with all the worms and skeletons creeping out of the cupboards as the family prepares to exit it, having sold it to a real state shark who is planning a multi-storey in its place.

The film begins on a “party” note which also has veteran singer Talat Aziz bursting into the melodious “Dilkash’ ending on a rather sour note for the family with the Batra matriarch Kusum (Sharmila) dropping two bombs, One that she wants them all to stay back and celebrate Holi which is 4 days later and second she intends to shift to her new home in Pondicherry and will not be moving in with her son Arun (Manoj) and his wife Indira (Simran) to their Gurugram penthouse.

Arun who still has a bee in his bonnet about being an adopted child, fumes silently as even his son Aditya (Suraj) and his daughter-in-law Divya (Kaveri Seth) plan to live separately. Arun’s relationship with Aditya is already strained with the latter himself in a fix over lack of finances for his startup.

There is also Sudhakar Kusum’s bitter and disagreeable brother-in-law played effectively by Amol Palekar who has his own agenda against her, blaming Kusum for breaking up the family time and again in the name of being independent.

Thrown into this dysfunctional cauldron of emotions is Arun’s daughter Amrita (Utsavi Jha) singer and lyricist caught between her boyfriend and her growing feelings for her girl friend. To round it all up is the Batra’s inhouse maid Reshma (Santhy Balachandran) the crush of another servant Jeetendra (Jatin Goswami) who is unable to summon the courage to propose to her.

Things come to a head when Indira discovers the will where Arun’s father had willed Gulmohar to Sudhakar as Arun was adopted. This acts as salt rubbing Arun’s wounds further and he takes off alone on a ride to come to terms with this betrayal.

Director Rahul V Chitella deftly weaves all these stories together, extracting excellent performances from the entire star cast. The veteran trio of Sharmila, Amol and Manoj lends gravitas to the film which also has another veteran in a brilliant cameo, Vinod Nagpal, as Arun’s biological father. It’s great seeing the ‘aankh mare’ girl Simran back in Hindi films after ages.

The film sends out two powerful messages to the viewers: When Kusum sees Amrita having a moment with her girlfriend, she sits her down and tells her, so what if you love a girl, it's love. Along with this out comes her own secret, her love for a childhood friend Supriya Palekar. The other is when Arun who is talking to his actual father is told that he did the best any father would for his son when he abandoned him at the nursing home where Kusum adopted him after suffering three miscarriages.

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