Gullak season 3 review: This slice-of-life series manages a rare feat, keeps getting better each season
Gullak season 3 review: The SonyLiv family dramedy hits it out of the park with another splendid season. The flawless performances of the principal cast are propped up by good writing, even if it does get a bit too melodramatic in places.
When Gullak first began streaming on SonyLiv almost three years ago, the show was like a warm hug. Part 90s nostalgia and part middle-class goodness, it was quite different than much of what has been available on Indian streaming platforms. But as any creator would tell you, creating a good show is tough but sustaining it is tougher. And that is where Gullak succeeds. In its third season, the show manages something few Indian shows--on OTT or TV--have before. It gets better. Also read: Gullak Season 2 review: This middle class drama is as genuine as pure love
It's not as if there haven't been good shows on Indian OTT platforms before. There have been plenty. But barring a few exceptions, most have seen their quality dwindle after the first season (we are looking at you Sacred Games). Perhaps what works in Gullak's favour is that each season is a mere five episode-long. That allows the showrunners to keep the story crisp and fresh. Their mantra seems to be: let the viewers long for more.
Gullak tells the story of the Mishra family, a middle-class household in a non-descript small North Indian town. Sometimes you feel it is set in the 90s but references to PubG ban and 21st century films bring you back to the contemporary setting. The principal cast--Jameel Khan, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Vaibhav Raj Gupta, and Harsh Mayar--give us a glimpse of this ordinary family with ordinary issues. Their troubles are not dramatic. They range from unexpected guests to nosy neighbours and office politics- typical Indian middle-class stuff.
The relatability of Gullak makes it a splendid show. Even as the third season involves more drama than the previous two, it never goes over the top or get melodramatic. The Mishra family could be anyone- you, your neighbours, or that uncle from Kanpur you like. They are generic yet so specific.
The chemistry of the cast is one of the strongest features of the show, as are their performances. How easily Jameel, Geetanjali, Vaibhav, and Harsh slip into the Mishra family and their intricate relationships makes the series a joyful watch. The actors breathe life into the show, as always. But the strongest performance, for me, this time came from outside the principal cast. It was the surprise package called Ketaki Kulkarni, who shines as Furteeli, the twenty-something woman trying to find herself.
The cast's performances, which are flawless, are elevated by the writing. The episodes are written in the simplest manner possible, lacking the innuendos, laughter tracks, or situational humour that have come to be a staple of Indian sitcoms. The show lacks romance, at least in the traditional sense. There is no violence, barring a flying chappal or two. And there is minimal drama. Yet, it holds the audience's interest and is a delightful watch.
The only complaint from Gullak's third season that I have is that it does get more dramatic and darker this time. The themes tackled are more serious than the previous two seasons. The stakes, at times, seem higher. The show isn't as light as it once was. Is it a metaphor for how the second wave of Covid-19 made everything 'not-so-light' or am I reading too much into it? Regardless, the show is definitely slightly more serious, particularly the season finale. But it is still well made. Even if it tackles serious issues, it does not get preachy or judgemental. It retains that freshness.
Gullak fits what I call the Doordarshan template. It takes you back to successful DD shows like Nukkad, Ye Jo Hai Zindagi, and Wagle Ki Duniya, which were similar in tone and themes. The success and longevity of Gullak (OTT shows hardly return for three seasons) is testament to the fact that even in this Netflix-MCU era, the Doordharshan template works if followed correctly.
Gullak is created by Shreyansh Pandey for SonyLIV under the banner of The Viral Fever. The third season will premiere on the streaming app from April 7.
Creator: Shreyansh Pandey
Cast: Jameel Khan, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Vaibhav Raj Gupta, and Harsh Mayar