Goodbye review: Amitabh Bachchan and Rashmika Mandanna can't save insensitive family drama
Goodbye review: Talk of performances, Amitabh Bachchan takes the cake for his sheer sincerity, conviction and blending emotions so well in each scene. Rashmika, in her debut Hindi outing is decent and that's about it.
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Rashmika Mandanna, Neena Gupta, Pavail Gulati, Sahil Mehra, Elli AvrRam
Director: Vikas Bahl
The matriarch of a family, Gayatri Bhalla (Neena Gupta) has suddenly died. As Gayatri's family and husband Harish Bhalla (Amitabh Bachchan) wait for their turn at the cremation ground, her neighbourhood ladies are busy thinking what to name the WhatsApp group they're making in the memory of the deceased. 'Gone Gayatri Gone, Lonely Harish ji, Harish ji needs us' are some of the suggestions said out loud before they reach a consensus to call it 'Chandigarh Bubblies'. Why? Because Gayatri called the group by this name and her memories should live on. Wait. There's more. The so-called group of friends pose for a smiling selfie, after all a new WhatsApp group calls for a new profile picture. Well, this is just 0.1% of the insensitivity and absurdity writer-director Vikas Bahl throws at us in this emotional rollercoaster of a funeral drama called Goodbye. Pardon me for saying funeral and drama in the same breath. But as you watch the story unfold in Goodbye, it really is a confused tale wanting to say so much but is so stuck in its flaws that it never rises beyond a funeral. (Also Read | Goodbye song Jaikal Mahakal: Amitabh Bachchan, Rashmika Mandanna are heartbroken)
In fact, for the entire first half, I kept asking myself, what is it that Bahl is trying to show though his story and characters? Is Goodbye the story of a grief-stricken dysfunctional family? Or a rebel daughter who refuses to believe in the outdated and orthodox rituals and traditions. Is it a story about four siblings who are settled in different parts of the world and come together to say the last goodbye to their dead mother? Or a dilemma between faith and science. Is it a satire on the death rituals that are prevalent in the society? Or fake tear-shedding relatives. The last two aspects have been beautifully shown in last year's films Ram Prasad ki Tehrvi and Pagglait and those, I must say, served a good benchmark. Unfortunately, Goodbye just doesn't leave that impact or doesn't even get close to it.
Soon after the news of Gayatri's death reaches her children, they all make their way back home in Chandigarh. Tara (Rashmika Mandanna), a lawyer who's won her first case, is drowned in guilt for not taking her mother's last call or replying to her message. Karan (Pavail Gulati) flies down from US with spouse Daisy (Elli AvrRam) who orders a ‘hindu’ meal because she 'loves the spicy Indian chicken'. Karan is a workoholic who can't do without his laptop and ear pods even while he's giving a shoulder to his dead mother's body. Angad (Sahil Mehta) is Gayatri's favourite and while taking a flight from Dubai, he doesn't miss ordering butter chicken and butter galic naan during his hotel layover, before his father takes him on a guilt trip over a call, for indulging in party food while he has lost his mother. Angad does order khichdi afterwards! There's another son, Nakul (Abhishekh Khan), who is out on a trekking expedition and realises about this loss much later than the rest of the family.
Amid all this, Harish, his Labrador named 'Stupid' and a house help are busy discussing the chores to be performed on Gayatri's funeral and last rites. Goodbye is a comedy-drama at its core but somehow things don't add up each time a joke is made while showing death and grief. For instance, Harish blindly follows his friend PP's (Ashish Vidyarthi) instructions and lets Gayatri's body be moved here and there to be kept in a particular direction. The comedy around the deceased often comes across in bad taste and atrocious.
There are several emotionally moving and heart-warming scenes in Goodbye, making you tear up every now and then, but the screenplay doesn't let you remain engrossed in them for too long as the misplaced humour chimes in way too often than needed. And mind you, it's not even clever comedy that will trigger laugh. Indeed, it's not a cakewalk to show a sensitive loss like death and infuse humour in it. But instead of being subtle, Goodbye does it a bit too in your face.
Picture this: Angad and Daisy have an unapologetic 'sambhog' after cremating their mother. When the father asks, he says, 'We are doing this for mom. She wanted grandkids.' Don't know if Bahl was trying to give any message here or be plain bizarre.
Talk of performances, Amitabh Bachchan takes the cake for his sheer sincerity, conviction and blending emotions so well in each scene. Rashmika, in her debut Hindi outing is decent and that's about it. Her dialogue delivery doesn't seem forced though her expressions could have been way better in varied situations. Pavail, Sahil and Elli are good in their parts and do justice to the screentime they get. Neena Gupta lights up the screen each time she appears in flashback sequences. Her chemistry with Amitabh Bachchan is endearing. There's also Sunil Grover as the priest who performs last rites. He lifts the storyline from a boring and super dragged first half to a somewhat interesting beginning to the second half. It's interesting to see how he becomes the force to make Tara believe in faith over science.
Goodbye is loaded with emotions but they don't linger on for too long. It's the comedy that takes over the major part and flaws become too evident to overlook. Still, watch it for a slice of life drama.