Review: TVF's 'Gullak' is totally worth your time
Throughout the five-episode narrative of Gullak, we are often reminded by the narrator (personified by a Gullak/piggy-bank itself; voiced by the super-talented Shivankit Singh Parihar), that it is not a story, but a humble collage of moments. Those moments have been cooked using pure human emotions, on a budget stove of an ordinary, middle-class family. Here is our review of the TVF Original series.
Gullak follows the ordinary, yet never uneventful lives of Mishras, a hopelessly middle-class family, based in a small town in North India. And the odd lot comprises a middle-aged couple, and their two sons. Although, practically speaking, very little seems to change over the course of the series, yet the bittersweet moments in this wonderfully-crafted slice-of-life tale seldom feel forced or dull.
The Mishras isn't your perfect family prototype, in fact, far from it. They are messed up (which family isn't?), and have their own set of constraints and insecurities. Their dreams are a decent job, renovated house, and a new scooter. And although, their evening tea is often served with a bowlful of quarrels, they still manage to find peace in their post-dinner ice-cream sessions.
Gullak succeeds in many departments, but probably the best thing about it is its self-containment. The writing is precise and meaningful, so much so that the the end product is utterly believable, genuinely funny, and amazingly refreshing.
It's a shame that despite Bollywood's recent obsession with stories based in small-town India (like Gullak's), what actually ended up portraying the nuances of small-town, middle-class India was a show that would remain ignored by the masses, given the medium of distribution. The never-ending family arguments to perpetually taunting housewives in Gullak will drive you down a journey of bittersweet nostalgia.
Fortunately, the show's crisp writing and intelligent direction are supported by some brilliantly self-aware and downright delightful performances of the lead actors. Geetanjali Kulkarni, in her rendition of a subjugating yet caring mother/wife, hits the bull's eye, while Jameel Khan, playing a calmer, more sensible husband to her, is fairly convincing. Vaibhav Raj Gupta and Harsh Mayar, as junior Mishras, are also equally enjoyable.
One might complain that the characters, possessing such great potential for diving deeper, suffer a miserable lack of depth, but the main reason for that is the show's considerably short runtime. Nonetheless, these adorably memorable characters will still stay with you for a while.
In times when top-notch Bollywood stars are busy selling harmfully misogynistic and socially toxic films, and one certain Khan continues to pull heavy crowds for his three-hour-long senseless torture, shows like Gullak come off as a much-needed respite. So, sit down with your family and relish this marvelously simple, yet surprisingly feel-good journey. All episodes are now streaming on SonyLIV.