A death in the Gunj- My Review

It was not an usual start and definitely slow-paced, it is not a thriller or the most entertaining movie, if you want all that in this then you have come to the wrong show and chosen the wrong movie as well. It disturbed me, unsettled me and made me think of various relationships that exist or try to exist within the borders of the societal norms that have been created to dominate and do not allow for anything else to exist. Nandu was not the best role model elder brother and dominated Shutu and treated him like a grownup man, what do we mean by grown-up man in India and what is the expectation of such a person, is the grown up man supposed to be physically strong, violent and have no control of his emotions like the volatile Vikram who hurt Shutu while playing a simple game of Kabaddi.

We do not discuss what can be allowed to exist, must one ignore the person and only treat his marks a judgment of his character. The characters look happy and yet as the story progresses each one has his/her share of skeletons. Mrs Curney is trying to grapple with the loss of her six year old daughter and does not speak to anyone about it. Loss, grief is internalized and no one speaks about it. Vikram loves Mimi and leaves no opportunity to steal kisses with her even though he is married to Purnima who can sing well and is a trophy wife while Mimi is portrayed as a woman who is judged for being open about her love for Vikram and displaying her need. The movie as it progresses shows us glimpses of the real characters and the actual emotions beneath the superficial parties and get-togethers that take place. The turning point is when Tani is lost and Shutu falls into the trap for an animal, how he is blamed  by everyone and then his cousin’s mother-in-law tells everyone that he is a failure and has failed his MSC examinations and his mother has written to her, yet he is here with all of them pretending to celebrate a holiday instead of taking care of his ailing mother.

 

The complexity of relationships that exist behind the four walls are shown and portrayed in a realistic and sensitive manner in a way that shows Konkona’s brilliance as a director and her ability to gauge at issues that are uncomfortable yet need to be spoken about. It makes me think of how we think of success, how we define who fits and who doesn’t and how easy it is for us to fall into the trap of having fun at someone’s expense and how we shudder to discuss real issues in families and put them under the carpet. We do not want anyone to be sad, yet do not ask why they are sad and try to address their cause of grief, we are taught to internalize grief and left to deal with it in whichever way we can. Losing a loved one can impact a person at any age and being manly has nothing to do with it. It is interesting how Mimi uses Shutu to gratify herself but the minute she hears of his failing his exams she loses all interest in him. Judgment is flying all around the air yet the pretense to be happy is a struggle at every level.

What the movie does is in very many subtle ways provoke us and leave us thinking about how we define ourselves and the world we live in and the deeply disturbing relationships that emerge out of it.

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