Gali Guleiyan Review: A Film Par Excellence, Shakes You From Within!

    Gali Guleiyan Review: A Film Par Excellence, Shakes You From Within!

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    My Verdict - With Superlative Performances, Debutante Director Dipesh Jain Brings Forth Cinema Extraordinaire!

    4.5 out of 5 stars


    There is good cinema, outstanding cinema and then there is Galli Guleiyan. It is a cinema par excellence. I hugely detest the usage of the terms art film and commercial film. For me a film is a film is a film. Every film is made for the people by the people and is of the people. Every single person who goes to a cinema hall has a conscience of his or her own, an understanding of his or her own, has a power of discernment of his or her own and we cannot take that away from them. This movie is one of those that plays with the very psyche of the viewing public! That is the very essence of this film.



    Khuddoos played by Manoj Bajpayee is a loner who is lost in his own world. In the lanes and bylanes of Old Delhi. Amidst the pigeon-holed existence, is his life, that is shattered, battered and bruised. His mental condition is pale and his countenance mirrors languor, debility and exhaustion! An exhaustion for the constant quest of liberation, an exhaustion from the relentless struggle of getting out from the very mesh of alleys he is so much a part of – His mind body and soul is piqued by the claustrophobia surrounded by dense match-boxed dwellings!

    He is tired of his very existence. But now, he suddenly finds a reason, almost as though with a lightning bolt that strikes him and he just devotes his very being into that. Anyone who starts watching the film will have a big question mark in his/her head! The very grammar of cinema has been used in a very beautiful manner in the narrative!



    Khudoos gets to know about a teenaged boy Iddu (Om Singh) who is not really in good terms with his father (Neeraj Kabi) who never forgoes a pretext to upbraid him and sometimes even beats him up mercilessly! It is because of his mother (played with utmost restraint and character by Shahana Goswami) that he gets away at times. Iddu’s only respite is his friend in whom he confides every ordeal he is face with! His friend is there with him through thick and thin.

    Khuddoos makes it a point to rescue the teenager from the clutches and if not, at least tries to safeguard him from his merciless father. Unfortunately, is not quite well-equipped with the wherewithal necessary! First thing, he is a drunkard, he barely recognises his way back home, he gets lost almost every night in the meandering by-lanes of the area. Every single soul in the area detests his existence and wants him to die. Well, notwithstanding these weaknesses in him, he plants a few CCTV cameras to keep a track of everything (not to much effect though)!   

    The teenager is mad at his father. He is mad for his father’s nonchalance towards his family, he is mad because he has seen his father getting sexually intimate with another woman (not once but a number of times, it is evident because he climbs up the parapet and then leans over to get a clear view of the room with a practised aplomb) he is mad at his father because, when his mother is about to deliver, his father wasn’t there near her and his brother was a stillborn! (his teenage mind conveniently dismisses any other complication that could have been the reason for the miscarriage. He blatantly blames his father on his face!) He is unable to bring out the reality of his father into open, perhaps because of his age, due to the paucity of words perhaps or may be because of the fear of judgement. There are so many psychological layers that the viewer has to interpret very closely to understand! The writing is fabulous!

    And finally when it is all too much than he can bear, his storming, outraged, immature, teenaged mind goes beyond sanity and does something irrevocable! Khuddoos realises something ominous, something sinister is happening and he tries to stop it with all his might, but it is TOO LATE!

    The usage of allegory, the play of the sub-conscious, the conversation between the Id, Ego and the Super-ego is tremendous in the film. The Id is represented by the instincts of the teenager, his likes and dislikes, his desire to leave the town forever, his hide-out in an abandoned mansion. His ego is his reality (the situation he is in, no matter how much he tries, his reality is in those very lanes and bylanes and there is no escape and finally what his heinous actions are. The super ego is represented by the older Khuddoos who desperately tries to get Iddu away from the situation because he knows the end will be really bad (which he fortells… Agar Mai uski Madad Na Karu, To uske saath Kuch bohot Kharab Ho Jaega… If I don’t come to his rescue, something really bad will happen to him)

    It doesn’t feel as though this is director Dipesh Jain’s first film. His usage of the cinema language is deep. His usage of visual metaphors and allegories are not to be seen in any film nowadays! SUPERB!



    Manoj Bajpayee is tremendous. He is just TOO GOOD! Needs must I say anything about him? He is an actor nonpareil. He is so good that you find yourself feeling claustrophobic at times. His portrayal of the forlorn, all the time in a drunken stupor Khuddoos gives a sense of Déjà vu to the viewers! The mininal usage of the background score was beneficial for him because his performance was highlighted even more. The restaurant scene where he bursts out at the owner for not being allowed to eat peacefully even after paying for the meal was ULTIMATE!





    Shahana Goswami is so restrained and so full of character that it feels as though you as a viewer are a silent spectator and you can literally see her in front of you, the sense of watching her on screen is not there. It is like she is right there in front of you. Neeraj Kabi too is very good as the stern father, he has his fallacies and is sexually involved with the other woman.



    Ranvir Shorey who plays Khudoos’ friend is a relief to the dark tone and mentality of the film. He plays his character with such a charm that it makes you feel what an underrated actor he is. His character rescues Khuddos from all the atrocities he gets himself into and lends a feel-good factor to the film. This is Om Singh’s first film but he plays the role of the distressed teen with an aplomb that makes one feel he is more than seasoned! His friend played by Arbaaz Khan too did a great job!




    The cinematography by Kai Miedendorp is like a cherry on the cake! His camera work makes the viewer feel the claustrophobia of Old Delhi, its dingy, labyrinthine alleys are brought to life, like never before! The usage of colour tones as well is worth mentioning here, the scenes involving the teenager Iddu and Khudoos are deliberately done in a sombre to dark tone, and on the contrary whenever Ganeshi (Ranvir Shorey) enters the frame, the tones are much brighter and more lit up; giving a sense of relief to the eyes! This has been done deliberately to subtly highlight the mindset, the psychological conditions and the worlds they belong to!

    All in all, the film gradually sucks you in, it makes you a part of the milieu and you desperately would want to get out of it. It is a film whose effect stays with you for a long time after you have left the theatre!