Whenever mainstream Bollywood announces a project that leans towards being artsy and intense, we are immediately on guard due to the industry’s tendency to ruin such projects with blatant commercialization and over-the-top dialogues that are more laughable than deep. Luckily, “Gehraiyaan” does not follow this route. What holds the movie back is something else entirely.
When the trailer for “Gehraiyaan” dropped, everyone was collectively excited because Bollywood was finally bringing a relationship movie after a long time. And the trailer itself was something fresh and new. Personally, the trailer appealed to us because it lacked the cringe factor we expect from Bollywood relationship movies, and also, nobody was talking in metaphors to sound deep. Which is why we expected to be wrong with our assumptions and were excited about the movie. After watching “Gehraiyaan,” however, while we are still wrong, as the film is far from cringe-worthy and the dialogues are more grounded in reality, “Gehraiyaan” is a serious let-down for different reasons.
‘Gehraiyaan’ Plot Summary
For a movie about “relationships,” nobody has any chemistry here. The story primarily revolves around three characters: Alisha (Deepika Padukone), Zain (Siddhant Chaturvedi), and Tia (Ananya Pandey). Alisha is a woman who finds herself in a relationship where she is taken for granted and a job that is not quite moving forward the way she wants it to. She fears getting “stuck” in life and meeting the same fate as her mother. Tia is Alisha’s cousin. She is your sweet girl next door, whose money unknowingly controls the actions of everyone in the story. Tia’s long-time boyfriend has an affair with Alisha when he starts to feel stuck in the relationship with the former due to her investments in his firm.
A very crucial thing for a movie about relationships to work is a minimum amount of empathy for the characters and some relatability or understanding of the viewer for the said relationships. When Alisha responds to and acts upon the attraction she is developing towards Zain, we wish the makers had shown it as just that-something she did to break the monotony of her life, because the supposed troubles we see in her own relationship are mostly left to the viewer’s imagination. That was a mistake as it took away from us the empathy we had for the character of Alisha. We see her go through a lot of angst, but it is hard to feel for her simply because we did not see any depth in it. That is not to say it must not have been there, but it should have been shown to us, considering the nature of the story. Zain is a character who obviously only thinks about himself. It is very obvious that he is with Tia for the money, but we fail to see why Tia is with him. We have no choice here but to conclude that Tia is just a naïve character who is easily manipulated. It would have been nice to see how Tia and Zain got together, to begin with, or just more of their relationship. Even without the affair, was it really possible for Tia to have missed that Zain was not in love with her?
As the “Gehraiyaan” progresses, we see Alisha break up with Karan, and while her affair with Zain is still a secret, it is now the most important relationship in her life. The story so far takes up an hour of the run-time. After that, it turns into a movie about a single man manipulating both the women in his life for his business goals. Zain needs money for his business, and Tia is used for that. He can’t break up with her anymore, but he also doesn’t want to let go of Alisha. What follows is him choosing to do the unthinkable, with disastrous consequences and possibly changing the lives of everyone around him.
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘Gehraiyaan’ Ending Explained
The ending was truly shocking for us to see that Zain, who Alisha had started seeing as her anchor, turned into the person who wanted to take her life because now she was an obstacle in his life. Alisha realizes that Zain has been lying to her again when she sees his messages and accidentally sees him adding pills to her drink. In the confrontation that follows, Zain receives a blow to his head and falls off the yacht, which kills him. That is when Alisha goes back to the mainland all by herself.
Something that “Gehraiyaan” gets right is how trauma can be generational and how, without proper guidance, we end up repeating the mistakes that we so strive to avoid. Alisha started the affair to escape the dead-end relationship she was in because she did not want to be like her mother. But when the truth finally came out, she realized that she had made the exact same mistakes. In a very vulnerable conversation with her father, she decides to accept her past and move on from it instead of constantly fighting it. This reminds us of something we had heard once before: you can’t shake off the baggage; you can only learn to carry it so that it does not seem as heavy over time.
Another aspect of the ending is whether Zain knew of Alisha and Tia’s reality and if any of his actions were motivated by that knowledge. We can only conclude that even if he knew, he did not act on it, considering the whole property was clearly in Tia’s name. However, it’s the last 30 seconds of the movie that are the real kicker. As Alisha decides to put the past behind her, a forgotten shadow of it places itself in front of her. The old woman that confronted Alisha in the end was someone Alisha and Zain had helped when they were still together, during one of their rendezvous on the yacht.
Alisha meets the old woman again at the engagement party and finds that she remembers Alisha and calls her by her name. This is where “Gehraiyaan” ends, and it is up to the viewer to conclude what could have happened. Does the old woman reveal to Tia how she knows Alisha and Zain, or is Alisha able to divert the conversation and handle it in time? Is everything that Alisha wants to put behind her about to come back and hold her tighter than ever? Or is it a sign that you can never truly leave your past behind—messy relics of it will always find their way back into your life? That is the only bit we appreciate being left to the viewer’s imagination. It added that little extra punch to the movie.
So why does the movie not live up to our expectations? Simply because for a movie which is titled “Gehraiyaan,” it has no depth. How can the characters in such a movie be so one-dimensional? Alisha is angsty, Tia is sweet and chirpy, and Zain is selfish and manipulative. We needed to feel something to like this movie. Instead, all we feel is an annoyance in the long run-time. They could have surely made it crisper? And we fail to see how the “twist” added anything to the story at all. As in, what did it prove, or how did it add to the growth or journey of the characters? But we are willing to forgive Bollywood for this because, while this was not it, it wasn’t the kind of bad we expected, which, in our books, is progress.
“Gehraiyaan” is another example of how Bollywood comes close to proving its talent, only to let it down at the end. We won’t recommend watching this, but we won’t hate it either. We will just wait for the day when Bollywood finally delivers, because nobody can do it like Tinsel Town can.
“Gehraiyaan” is a 2022 Indian Romance Drama film directed by Shakun Batra.