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Gehraiyaan Deserves Two Slaps But I’m Giving it Two Stars Because of Deepika

Lots of films are blah or bad. But some special ones really piss you off. ‘Gehraiyaan’ is like that

Suparna Sharma Feb 11, 2022

Cast: Deepika Padukone, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Ananya Pandey, Dhairya Karwa, Naseeruddin Shah, Rajat Kapoor 
Direction: Shakun Batra
Rating: ★★
Streaming on Amazon Prime

If 13 years of reviewing movies has taught me anything, it is this: when production houses devote a lot of time, money and effort on pushing titbits and baubles to titillate and generate interest in their film before its release, samajh jana chahiye that there’s little else in the film to talk about.

All the people involved in the making, marketing and PR of Gehraiyaan have been wasting our time for the last couple of weeks with their constant chatter about the film’s intimate scenes. Now we know why.

Gehraiyaan, directed by Shakun Batra, is a hash of Woody Allen’s Match Point (2005) and is stalked by the lingering aatma of Karan Johar’s Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (2006). Even its poster is a copy of KANK.

But Batra, who has written the film’s script with the assistance of three others, couldn’t even get this copy-paste job right. He piles on B-grade bakwaas about property deals, shell companies, corporate fraud, ED investigation, blackmail and a family secret, and turns the film into a deranged, bizarre thriller. 

Nothing about Gehraiyaan is deep. The film paddles in the shallow end of the emotional pool with two armband floats and yet it drowns.

Batra’s Gehraiyaan deserves two slaps, but I am giving it two stars because of the valiant efforts of Deepika Padukone, and Ananya Pandey (to a small extent), who carry the bojh of this film on their toned shoulders. Also because Kushal Shah with his smart cinematography and Nitesh Bhatia’s intelligent editing try to inject some soul into this rather vacuous affair.  

Gehraiyaan is the story of two couples; where one half is happy or indifferent, and the other seeks happiness. 

Alisha (Deepika Padukone) is a yoga instructor and her boyfriend is Karan (Dhairya Karwa). They live in the same house but snap at each other from separate rooms. Karan has quit his job and is writing a book, but he won’t share the draft with Alisha even though she is doing all sorts of upward-downward dog and half-frog asanas to pay the bills and keep the house running. 

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Alisha is haunted by sad childhood memories of her mother and carries a grudge against her dad (Naseeruddin Shah). Her biggest fear is that she will end up like her mummy, so she takes anxiety pills and suffers Karan’s snarky, crabby remarks.

Then there is Alisha’s US-return, rich cousin Tia (Ananya Pandey) and her businessman boyfriend Zain (Siddhant Chaturvedi). Tia and Zain invite Alisha and Karan to spend a few days at their gorgeous beach house. 

Tia is happy, chirpy and makes lots of money, though I’m not sure how. There’s an engagement on the horizon and she is excited about planning her Tuscany wedding. But Zain doesn’t seem very interested in that or in Tia. And he flinches every time Tia’s Mummyji calls to talk about how much money Tia’s Daddyji has invested in Zain’s company.

Zain wants to get out of Tia and her Mummyji’s suffocating grip, so the moment he spots Alisha, he gets moving on his ‘let’s-use-the-luxury-yacht-to-hit-on-cousin’ plan and the two unhappy people start their own side thing.

I liked this sea breeze-kissed first half of Gehraiyaan, despite the fact that Alisha and Zain’s very brief liptoing and jhaptoing was only mildly sexy. I have been treated to steamier scenes on the last Metro from Delhi to Gurugram.

The bit about people stuck in unhappy relationships and wanting more is nice. And this is where the movie feels like it’s the kale-juice-sipping, svelte, small-screen child of the big Bollywood blockbuster, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna.

Instead of KANK‘s swag, scale, razzmatazz and emotional embrace, Gehraiyaan has the pursed-lipped formality of modern people whose sling bags have yoga mats and dinner plates are sprinkled with healthy affectations.

This part of the film—made up of taut bodies in posh locations, Alisha’s long, eloquent silences, her dimpled smile and furtive glances—is shot in moody shades of blue and is quite pretty and engaging. 

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Instead of the seductive New York skyline that KANK had, here sea waves rise and gush into dramatic scenes to give them meaning.

But soon after, as the cheaters reach that point in their relationship which requires a visit to the gynaecologist, a la Match Point, the film goes bonkers. Lies pile up, one business shuts down, another needs to be rescued with mortgages, a father returns and the film ties itself into knots before signing off on a stupid, predictable note.

Lots of films are blah or bad. But some special ones really piss you off. Gehrainyaan is one sure film. The two-and-a-half hours I wasted on it would have been better spent cleaning the toilet over and over again.

It has been barely two hours since I finished watching the movie and yet I am finding it difficult to recall Siddhant Chaturvedi. He is on the screen a lot but in uniquely forgettable ways. 

Hats off to Deepika Padukone, who, as Alisha, begins unhappy and keeps popping anxiety pills. Then she lights up the film when she’s excited and happy to be liptoing around Zain, until her anxieties return and she comes unhinged, as does the film. 

There were so many moments in Gehraaiyaan when I wanted to say to her, “Behen, pass me the pills, please.” But I think she needed them more to keep going.

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