At the movies

Gullak, a slice of life worth investing time in

For me, the star of `Gullak’, the five episode web series from `The Viral Fever’ stable, was not the earthern piggybank, nor its role as the sutradhar or commentator of sorts but Geetanjali Kulkarni. What a fine actor, what a splendid, real performance. She brought back memories of the feisty aunties in our Delhi locality, where I grew up, who were the fulcrum around which their families revolved. 

I must admit I had not seen Geetanjali’s body of work before. A Wikipedia reading revealed just why she is such a natural. She is a National School of Drama (NSD) alumnus, a batchmate of Nawazuddin Siddiqui and married to Atul Kulkarni, another brilliant actor. She has done a lot of theatre and Marathi films, including the critically acclaimed `Court’. 

`Gullak’ is set in a two-tier town, somewhere in Uttar Pradesh. At least, that is what the dialect lets you believe. But think Uttar Pradesh, don’t think Mirzapur. This is a slice of life presentation, away from the tales of violence, sex and political intrigue. Thank God and TVF for that.

What makes `Gullak’ endearing is that it does not delve into a sob story which it could easily do. The “saat number galli waale” Mishra family finds in eating icecream after dinner, bonding time. Or the trek to the terrace everytime the power trips. It is cute how the frequent outage is an affront to Santosh Mishra (Jaleel Khan, another brilliant performer who has acted in films like `Baby’) who works in the Electricity department. He refuses to invest in an invertor because doing so would be committing treachery against his employer. 

`Gullak’ is not a `kahaani’ as the narrator puts it, it captures `kisse’. It is a plunge into emotions – some happy, some sad, some full of angst, some delirious with joy. And the Gullak is not just a storehouse for coins and notes, it is also a witness to this rollercoaster of emotions. The stray coins and notes are not riches though they do help in making a reasonably heavy purchase in the series, the gullak keeps a bahikaatha of their life’s moments. 

The gullak strangely enough transports itself to different parts of the household, from atop the refrigerator to the younger son Aman’s table, almost as if to be a fly on the wall. It is brought to life by the endearing voice of Shivankit Singh Parihar. The narration makes the viewer long for a time when life was simple and less complicated. 

The writing is good, crisp, the acting spot on and direction tight. The viewer unfriendliness of the Sony Liv app being the only drawback I can think of, I would strongly recommend `Gullak’. 


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