Gali Guleiyan movie review: Manoj Bajpayee delivers his Godfather, his Taxi Driver
Director - Dipesh Jain
Cast - Manoj Bajpayee, Neeraj Kabi, Shahana Goswami, Ranvir Shorey
Rating - 3.5/5
Cinema, by definition, invites us to step inside strangers’ lives, wear their skin and peep inside their minds. Those few hours in a darkened theatre can lead to a gamut of emotions -- joy, grief or catharsis. In Gali Guleiyan, the lasting feeling is that of claustrophobia.
Manoj Bajpayee’s honest interview: ‘I’m tired of being frustrated’
Manoj Bajpayee’s Khudoos -- much like us, the audience -- is a voyeur who watches the labyrinthine Old Delhi stretching around him through a complicated web of close-circuit cameras. Long back, he turned his back to the real world, with the hazy CCTV images being his only link. That, and one loyal friend Ganeshi (Ranvir Shorey) who fusses over Khudoos like a mother would and tries to keep him sane.
Watch the Gali Guleiyan trailer here
Brilliantly portrayed by Bajpayee, Khudoos is imprisoned in the maze that’s the old city and inside his mind. A compulsive loner, his grasp on reality is slipping. His only refuge is his decrepit old shop, which is inhabited by outdated technology and years of loneliness. That’s where he first hears the cries of Iddu (Om Singh), a teenaged boy chained to his abusive father (Neeraj Kabi). Like Khudoos, Iddu wants an escape from his smothering neighbourhood and familial ties.
Their two lives are joined by an unseen umbilical cord and saving Iddu from abuse becomes the only reason for Khudoos’ existence. Before long, their lives intersect as Khudoos’ begins his feverish search for the boy.
Promoted as a psychological thriller, Gali Guleiyan is light on suspense and you can see the twist a mile off. However, as the psychological portrait of the character, it is perhaps one of the best films to come out in a long time. Bajpayee makes Khudoos humane and vulnerable, his body language saying what he never can voice. The actor described the film as his Godfather, his Taxi Driver and it is indeed the performance of a lifetime.
Debutante actor Om Singh does a fine job of playing Iddu too -- his anger at his father is palpable but just under the surface. Kabi and Shahana Goswami are effective as the parents, the camera perking up every time the mother played by her is in the frame.
There is another character in the film who writes everyone’s fate and seals them -- the social dystopia that’s Old Delhi. Coloured in grey, brown and yellow palette, it is a maniacal presence without any empathy. Director Dipesh Jain ensures it has nothing in common with the kite-flying bonhomie with which we have associated the space till now. His Old Delhi is not about new beginnings, it is about the dead ends.
Author tweets @JSB17
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