‘Gullak’ Season 4 Review: Sony LIV Family Drama Continues Its Winning Streak


Family dramas used to be the bread and butter of the Hindi television landscape. Maybe it still is, but after a major chunk of the audience gravitated towards streaming platforms and said streaming platforms started making crime dramas, crime thrillers, and something or the other related to crime, it seemed like the era of the Great Indian Family Drama was over. But then, one fine day, I discovered Gullak, which had the complexities of the family dramas of yore, like Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii, while also being as funny as something like Sarabhai Vs. Sarabhai. Instead of stretching each episode to 45–50 minutes, it limited itself to around 30 minutes per episode and used that time very efficiently to tell self-contained stories while having an overarching narrative. The first two seasons were slam dunks. The third season went too hard on the episodic storytelling while still managing to impact the viewers’ tear ducts. Does Season 4 continue this winning streak? Let’s find out.

Shreyash Pandey’s Gullak Season 4 opens with the state government’s policy of bulldozing “illegal” homes reaching the Mishra household, thereby putting Santosh, Shanti, Aman, and Anand in a state of turmoil about what’s going to happen if they don’t have a place to live. And although they manage to ward off this unholy curse for the time being, many other problems keep coming their way, thereby forcing them to come up with unique solutions while making sure that nothing causes the family to come apart at the seams. Since the adults’ eyes remain on the horizon, they forget to keep at least one eye on Aman, who is going through what’s called puberty. He is trying to look manly. He is trying to woo girls. However, since Aman lives in a conservative household and he won’t get to be cool if his parents are aware of it, he resorts to certain juvenile and unethical methods. Without spoiling anything, let’s just say that the corruption of Aman’s soul is what forms the crux of this season of the series.

Much like the previous seasons of Gullak, every episode of Season 4 is centered around a simple topic, but its repercussions are immense, to say the least. The first episode sort of critiques a certain Indian state’s penchant for “bulldozer justice,” but more importantly, it reminds viewers that while the middle class has the privilege to avert such a scenario with bribe money and gloat about it as well, those who don’t have that kind of money or belong to a minority community can only helplessly watch their house turn to dust. The second episode critiques the same Indian state’s rise in crimes against women while highlighting the fact that, even though men are at fault, the onus is on women to “dress appropriately,” because men know they are incapable of self-correction or restraint. The third episode subtly talks about the looming threat of the water crisis while laughing at a middle-class family’s unique brand of nostalgia. The writers also manage to comment on office politics and how bosses berate managers and managers berate those who work under them, but there’s no space to punch up even if there’s something clearly wrong about the way things are functioning. If you look at Anand’s profession, you can see how the ethos of pharmacy is eroding, even in small towns and cities.

There has been a slow but steady evolution of the central four of Gullak, and it’s interesting to see them go in totally new directions while feeling like they are the same people you met in Season 1. Do you know what I mean? Okay, for example, if you have grown up with your parents and siblings and you see them every day, your proximity to them doesn’t allow you to see the major changes happening in their personalities. It’s possible that you don’t even notice some of their physical changes. When something catastrophic happens or life forces you to pause and take stock of what’s going on, you begin to notice the wrinkles, the white hair, and the slowed-down pace, which is kind of sad, but it’s also a reminder of the fleeting nature of life. That’s what it’s like to watch the Mishra family. The same can be said about the show’s visual storytelling. It doesn’t seem like the lighting, the direction, the tone, the editing, the music, and the rhythm have witnessed some drastic transformation. However, a side-by-side comparison of each episode from every season will definitely be eye-opening. This is a roundabout way of saying that it’s easy to take a breezy show like Gullak for granted because it doesn’t call attention to its production design, costume design, sound design, etc., but that doesn’t mean you should overlook the craft and heart on display.

The cast of Gullak Season 4, as usual, is fantastic. Their chemistry is so organic that it’s hard to believe that they aren’t real family members. I have seen a lot of shows and movies from all around the globe, but I haven’t seen a fictional family as spontaneous as this one. They’ll compel you to rewind each scene so that you can register every single reaction and micro-reaction and enjoy them. While Jameel and Geetanjali don’t get their own individual arcs, Vaibhav and Harsh do get to shine in their personal subplots. Vaibhav’s scenes with Saad Bilgrami and Manuj Sharma are excellent. Harsh is amazing in his scenes with Stuti Tiwari, Jay Thakkar, and Solanki Sharma. It was hilarious to see Amarjeet Singh in the middle of another chaotic family after Kapoor & Sons. And nobody’s getting any points for guessing who is the MVP of the show. We all know it’s Sunita Rajwar. The way she subtly steals a bunch of stuff from the Mishra household can rival any heist film. I was in splits when she was talking about the hookah bar. That said, she did manage to tug at my heartstrings when she suddenly switched gears to stabilize the Mishras when they sensed they were under a lot of stress. Bittu ki Mummy is going to go down as one of the best characters of all time.

With all that said, I can’t, in good conscience, tell you to give Gullak Season 4 a watch because it’s produced by an allegedly problematic individual. The studio attached to this series proudly flaunts his name in the opening credits, thereby ruining the viewing experience. I have heard a lot about “cancel culture” ruining the lives of men, but that’s just a load of nonsense that people love to say on the internet to preserve their sad male fantasies. In real life, these men spend some time away from the public eye, and then they return to make money off of genuinely good pieces of art. It’s my job to watch shows and movies that are backed by problematic people, so I have to. You, the audience, get to choose what you want to watch and what you shouldn’t watch and shape the landscape with your eyeballs and your wallet. Therefore, choose wisely so that the entertainment industry learns how to progress without seeking help from real-life villains.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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