As we start watching “Gulmohar” we remember how it is said that happy families are all the same, while unhappy families are unhappy in their own way. Well, even though it seems evident enough, we would still like to ask why that is. One would define a family as a group of people related by blood. But what next? What is the purpose of being related to each other? That answer lies in the basic human need for companionship and support and in the assumption that the family is the first and most important place where we will find it, which is the source of the internal conflict of the characters of “Gulmohar.” Of course, somewhere along the line, the purpose of a family gets lost in the blinding need to have one. The happiness of the individual is compromised in the interest of the longevity of the relationship, not understanding that this is actually the most counter-productive thing to do for both. It is true that a happy relationship is made by happy people, but in a culture where we are taught to value ourselves only by the relationships around us, how long can either of them sustain?
This brings us to something we have been hearing for a long time, that blood is thicker than water. But we recently came to know that the entire adage reads as ‘the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.’ We don’t know which version is more right, but we couldn’t help thinking about whether we would personally ever choose the relationships we are born with. That would require a level of emotional and societal intelligence as a collective that we are probably not ready for. But on some rare occasions, we see the light. Maybe we find it because we set our egos aside or because we see the harsher side of life beyond our sugar-coated reality, or sometimes, we just see a different side of the same coin. “Gulmohar” is the story of a happy family with some unhappy people. There is a lot of love, but the occasional conditional nature of it raises some questions, and this is how the characters of “Gulmohar” get past them.
‘Gulmohar’ Plot Summary: What Are The Problems In The Batra Family?
Before anything else, we must say that as much as we hate the face framing highlights trend, we love it on Sharmila Ji, and nobody could have pulled it off as gracefully as she did. As the story begins, Kusum Batra and her family are moving out of their home, where they have lived for 34 years. While her adopted son, Arun, will be living in a penthouse with his family, it comes as a shock to everyone that Kusum has found a house for herself in Puducherry, where she will be living alone. Arun is doubly troubled by this because his son, Adi, wants to live by himself with his wife. Arun is the kind of man who doesn’t like changes in his life, and neither is he happy about the house being sold nor about his son moving away. Adi is trying to launch an app of his own, and being the owner of a new business that has yet to make money means that he is unemployed. He is counting on his wife Divya to take care of their expenses for a while, and while she is completely supportive of it, the frustration of not being able to get things off the ground with his business is making his male ego rear its unpleasant head.
As for the other members, Arun’s daughter Amrita is facing a creative block with her songwriting, in addition to the fact that she has been avoiding her boyfriend Ankur, for a while now. Meanwhile, Arun’s wife, Indu, is not happy about Kusum moving to Pondicherry, as she believes that she should be with her family at such an advanced age. The sentiment is shared by Kusum’s brother-in-law, Sudhakar, who doesn’t like Kusum’s ‘modern’ way of handling her family. He is an extremely conservative man, and he dislikes that Kusum moved away with her husband and family from her in-laws’ place in Jamshedpur. He had to step into the shoes of his big brother and take care of the house, and he blames that for not being able to pursue his dream of being an IAS officer. He also dislikes that Kusum relies so much on their cook, Reshma, who is of a different religion. As for Arun, he is struggling to find a way to talk to his son, as he just doesn’t understand his unconventional life choices.
Kusum has asked the family members to stay back in Gulmohar for four more days until the festival of Holi, and she tells them that they all can leave afterward. “Gulmohar” follows the story of the family through these four days.
How Does Amrita Accept Her Sexual Orientation?
Amrita is a singer and songwriter who has a boyfriend, Ankur, who happens to love her a lot. We are guessing that it is only recently that Amrita has discovered her sexuality, and she is still struggling to accept her love for a woman as she is scared of the repercussions. Her parents know about her boyfriend and seem to accept it, but it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think that they would oppose her relationship with another woman. One day, when she is having a moment with her girlfriend, Kusum sees them. She sits down with Amrita and hears out her doubts and fears. Surprisingly, she is supportive of her. As we had discussed before, there are some things we do for ourselves and some that we do for our family. Kusum tells her not to feel guilty about pursuing what her heart wants. Her family will never agree with all her decisions, but that doesn’t mean that she keeps holding herself back for their sake.
Kusum tells her a bit about her own life, about how she had fallen in love with a girl named Supriya Palekar when she was in college, but she had stopped herself by thinking of the society. Later, when she fell in love again with her husband, she had trouble getting pregnant, which is when she found an abandoned baby in the hospital, whom she adopted and is now her son Arun. Everything she had been accepting as fate was something she had consciously chosen. As much as she loved what she had, she could have lived a different life if she had followed her heart. But that would have meant that she would not have been Arun’s mother or enjoyed the subsequent family that followed. There is a time to follow our hearts and a time to let life take the reins. It is up to us to choose the path that makes us happiest.
Why Does Adi Start Looking For A Job?
Adi and Divya have constantly been fighting due to the former being demotivated and not knowing any other way of dealing with his emotions, like most men. He wants to live by himself and not take the funding for the start-up from his father because he wants to prove himself without being under his shadow. As for Arun, he does not understand why Adi insists on living away from Gulmohar, apart from the rest of his family. But he gets a sort of answer to his question when his mother points out that Arun has inherited the Batra trait of off-handed snide remarks, and it is good that Adi is going away from it. While she says it in jest, Arun understands that Adi might want to live alone so that he wouldn’t have to face the constant doubt of his father. He tries to talk to his son later that day while taking him to work, but he can’t help turning the ‘talking to’ into a ‘talking at,’ causing Adi to storm off in anger. But his father is the least of Adi’s problems. When he comes to know that the coding team has refused to work unless they get paid, he finds no other option except to turn to a regular day job to support his new life and stand on his own two feet.
Why Does Arun’s Father Leave Gulmohar For Sudhakar?
While looking for the papers of the house to complete some formalities, Indu sees the last will of Arun’s father, where he has left everything to his brother, as they are his last blood relatives. The witnesses to the will were Sudhakar and Kusum. Devastated, Arun confronts them about it the next day, but Sudhakar acts as if this was inevitable. He has no sympathy for Arun, who has just found out that his father probably never saw him as he would a real son. Kusum is devastated, and she tries to explain to Arun that she did not know what she was signing. She also tries to tell him that Arun’s father took this decision in a moment of weakness incited by Sudhakar. We had previously seen that Sudhakar never considered Arun as part of the family. He also held it against Kusum for moving to Delhi, ignoring the fact that she had to do so because she did not want to raise her son in such a hostile environment. This had forced Sudhakar to step up for some responsibilities, and it had always bothered him. Even though Arun helped his family later in life by funding Sudhakar’s grandson’s education and paying for Kamal’s wife’s surgery, he could never look past what he had ‘sacrificed.’ Sadly, it is the nature of most Indian men to never understand their wives when they choose to take a stand for themselves. Even though they might see the reason, they will forever hate having to stand by it. An Indian man never wants to be anything less than a god for his family, and it is not uncommon for him to throw his wife under the bus for decisions he makes. Sudhakar must have emotionally blackmailed him, and Arun’s father emotionally gave in. If that were not the case, Kusum would have known about it before signing the will and not after.
A heartbroken Arun checks into a hotel, where his wife comes to meet him. Did we say how delighted we are to see Simran on screen again? Either way, Arun tells her that he found his real father and that he runs a small tea shop on the side of the road. Arun has been going there for some time but has never visited the shop because he wonders what that will change. Indu tells him to take the step as change is a natural part of life, and shying away from it does not ensure the happiness of the past. With these words ringing in his ears, he goes to meet his father for the first time. Though he does not tell him who he is, we are Indians, and no secret is so sacred that it can’t be shared over a cup of tea. The man tells Arun that he had left behind his son in a hospital because he could not take care of him. When Arun tells him that you just have to make a child happy, the man tells him that he can give happiness because he got it from his parents. Maybe that was the lightbulb moment for Arun. Both his fathers had loved him, but one had let him go in the hope of a better life for him, and the other had given him exactly that and then chosen to think of others. It would forever be a stain on Arun’s memory of his father, but it is not big enough that it would eclipse all the love he had received from him.
‘Gulmohar’ Ending Explained: How Does The Batra Family Reconcile Their Differences?
Adi is giving his interview when the interviewer asks him whether he would stop working on his business if he joined the company. Adi had never considered this before, but once the question was in front of him, he knew the answer was a clear no. At that very time, Divya comes to meet him, and she tells him not to give up on his dreams. She also tells him to take the investment from his father. Why would it be belittling for him to take money from his father when he plans on giving it back with interest anyway? With this news and keeping the recent developments in mind, Adi agrees and walks out of the interview.
Meanwhile, Amrita tells Ankur the truth about herself and that she is in love with a woman. Though heartbroken and confused, he accepts her decision with grace and moves on, playing the keyboard for their concert. As for Reshma and Jeetu, he finally decides to get over his insecurities when Irfan points out how he is failing to see the bigger picture. The flip side of an inferiority complex is that if the roles were reversed, the person would usually think of the other person as something less than, and this is a topic that should be discussed more by women. But for now, Irfan tells Jeetu not to let his self-doubt get the better of him and reply to Reshma, who has confessed her feelings to him. It takes Jeetu a while to respond, but he does eventually.
Meanwhile, Sudhakar is confronted by his son and daughter-in-law for his insensitivity. His son calls out his sense of entitlement and tells him that he neither wants to understand him nor wants to be like him. All this time, Sudhakar had fancied himself the victim, but he ignored that his supposed troubles were nothing more than the result of people choosing their own lives over his. Had he been a nicer uncle to Arun, Kusum might have never left Jamshedpur, and Sudhakar could have pursued his IAS dreams. Even then, his bitterness did not stop him from taking Arun’s money whenever he needed it. With the cards out in front of everyone, it is clear that the narrative he has spun in his mind holds no water, and nobody has any sympathy for him. Kusum says as much and tells him that she never wants to see him again. There is a particular satisfaction as Sudhakar accidentally spills water on the will, which is symbolic of all his dreams of moral grandeur coming to an end. As for Arun, in light of everything he has realized, he comes back home. The family celebrates their last Holi in the Gulmohar house. In the ending scene, we come to know that Supriya Palekar is living in Puducherry. Kusum certainly knew about it, and she is ready to rekindle a long-lost romance once again.
It is always a delight to watch wonderful actors deliver remarkable performances, but the strength of “Gulmohar” lies in its dialogue. Especially the one where Kusum jokingly points out to Arun why Adi might want to live separately, the scene is as subtle as it is effective. The wisdom of the film comes from the most unexpected places. It was Irfan who spoke sense when we expected Reshma to be the one to say the words; it was Kamal who said what we would have expected from Arun or Indu; and even Arun’s biological father gave a very insightful view of his desire for his son to have the comfort and luxury of generational wealth and love. What else can we say except that “Gulmohar” was a beautiful movie, and Simran and Sharmila Ji deserve to be busier actors? We truly hope to see more such movies like this in the OTT space.
See More: ‘Gulmohar’ Themes, Explained: A Tepid Examination Of Family Values, Queerness, & The Identity Of New Delhi