My fellow brownies! There were days in our lives when we children along with our parents used to sit together to watch a family drama with rich elements of humor and episodic stories so relatable.
Neither the parents were reluctant nor the children embarrassed that the show would ever startle a cringe tone with a subject to insecure or discomfort its loyal household viewers at any moment.
But now, the quality of humor has drastically changed. Alas! those golden moments of our lives are missing. Great writers and storytellers have disappeared. And the contents of romance and sex, and the importance of woke, political correctness, and LGBTQ+ make more rounds. And in all this process, the evening get-together of a family for a show to watch on the television has lost the spark.
But I have a piece of good news for you. An Indian family drama by The Viral Fever (TVF) circulated on my radar and after years or maybe a couple of decades, I finally found a family drama that is technically a masterpiece in performance, screenplay, writing, and direction. And more than that, a show that wittingly addresses a social satire and domesticity in the most convenient manner – Gullak.
STORY and WRITING
Gullak is a Hindi word that means a saving jar. In other words, it is also called a piggy bank. Displayed on different furniture with time, Gullak narrates the everyday incidents that occur in the house of the Mishras.
A family consisting of the parents (Papa Santosh and Mummy Shanti) and their two sons (Annu the eldest and Aman) struggles to survive the unwanted challenges that drag them to plenty of obstacles.
The Mishras represent millions and millions of middle-class houses and their average life spent on blaming, forgetting, mistaking, and taunting. Winning minor battles of arguments over each other, tolerating bad habits, lying to survive one day without wife or mother scolding. The writers of the show presented an authentic look at the domestic incidents between the four walls and the ceiling.
The most convincing element of the writing of Gullak is that the snippets of the incidents and dialogues in all the episodes are extremely relatable. The global audience especially the South Asian audience will feel it and remember their time. And when you watch the episodes of Gullak and naturally relate the moments to yours, that is the success point of the show’s presentation.
Gullak also guarantees the story growing in the audience due to the fact that because of incredibly rich aesthetics, the art of storytelling sketches unfiltered emotions. The dramatization doesn’t look artificial at all. The parents fight about the relatives, the youngest family member Aman spending more time in the toilet, the mother taking tension about the eldest son Annu being late reaching home, father and sons in agreement on the matriarch preparing the usual food they hate to eat, written phone numbers inside the bedsheet, Aman asking mom to visit the hospital because it smells good, and so many incidents.
The dialogues matter more when the characters in the limited storyline have to develop and Gullak exceeded that expectation too. Santosh hitting the nerve on his wife Shanti while arguing about tying the knot was superbly dramatized. Especially when Santosh crossed the limit by insulting her that her marriage proposal before him was not accepted due to head lice.
AAPKO NAHIN PATA?
If I am not wrong, every episode had a “Don’t You Know?” sketch. The question of the episode emphasizes a social satire of keeping the incidental records of the neighbors and this trend made some really impressive rounds. Another point that cannot be missed to point out is the assistance of the talkative neighbor, Bittu’s mummy. Her spicy presence made the atmosphere more exciting.
I hold only two objections to this show. One is needless music score which has been a cultural norm in presenting a film in India. That could have easily been controlled instead of being a distraction on countless shots.
The other objection which I believe is a massive miss from the content of Gullak is not adding a family member in the Mishras – a daughter. Where the writing of the Mishras nearly perfected their character strength, the absence of a daughter in the house was terribly missed. The story arc of a daughter would have thoroughly completed the Mishras and Gullak.
It is hard to point out one actor who surpassed other actors in performance. Jameel Khan as Santosh gives you the same vibes as his iconic Asghar from Gangs of Wasseypur. Vaibhav Raj Gupta and Harsh Mayar were impressive. Especially Vaibhav’s aggression in the character was natural. But I think Gitanjali Kulkarni as Shanti Mishra has to be singled out for giving so much strength to the character and raising the bar for an onscreen mother.
There were topics in Gullak that brought a lot of attention and were important to address. The hard-hitting point was when Santosh is hospitalized. It was a remarkable piece of detailing, and so emotional and so well performed.
If you notice, Annu rushes to the hospital bare feet and Aman remembers to collect his father’s slippers. While Annu runs to buy medicines, Aman drops his father’s slippers on his feet. Despite being shorter in size, he wears and leaves.
It was a commanding message. The role of a father was shifting to his eldest son through those pair of slippers. And this is what I am talking about. Gullak is a show about incidents and this show has addressed, portrayed, and dramatized to zeal.
Gullak is the reminder of good-old Indian and Pakistani family dramas of the 1980s that had a stupendous blend of writing, direction, and performances with exuberant comedy.
Three seasons have been aired and I sincerely hope that Gullak continues writing about the Mishras because there is a lot to happen in this family. By ‘a lot to happen’, I mean to say as Gullak continuously emphasizes incidents, but not stories.
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