In India, death comes with a lot of rituals, some of which most people don’t understand but still follow. And sometimes, we forget to address the most important thing while preparing for a funeral. We forget to talk about our grief, personal and shared. We get caught up in doing what everyone thinks is right, religiously, but we don’t sit and talk about what the family is feeling. It’s almost as if we want to bury the grief in intense physical exhaustion so that we’re just too tired to think and cry. And it’s not like you can go seek comfort anywhere except in rituals. You can’t order butter chicken to feel a bit better, even if the person who dies would probably join you in a feast. As shown in Goodbye, you’ve got to seek your comfort in khichdi.
Written and directed by Vikas Bahl, Goodbye stars Amitabh Bachchan, Neena Gupta, Rashmika Mandanna, Pavail Gulati, Ashish Vidyarthi, among others. This film is a tear-jerker family drama that will pull at your heartstrings from the beginning. At times, it seems like the film is trying too hard to make you cry. It will make you feel guilty for not replying to your mom’s messages or cutting short your last conversation with your dad. It will also make you dread the day you lose them. Goodbye takes you on an emotional ride, easily switching from crippling sadness to the laughable drama that is a part of every funeral. From people who cry on demand and claim to be the most affected to those who insist on taking charge of the religious aspect of it all, this film goes beyond melodrama and shows the reality of our funerals.
When Gayatri Bhalla (Neena Gupta), the matriarch and anchor of a normal, middle-class Chandigarh family dies suddenly, her family struggles to cope with the loss, both publicly and privately. The dysfunctional bunch comes together for the funeral amidst their own ongoing squabbles with each other. As the family plans the funeral and goes through the rituals, they deal with their grief in a surprisingly non-Bollywood manner. There’s no dramatic crying near the body and no shouting at the heavens about this injustice. Goodbye deals with grief and loss in a relatable manner and will hit a nerve with those who have had to plan funerals for loved ones. The highly emotive actors make the film even better with none of them going over the top.
Amitabh Bachchan plays the grieving husband and frustrated father, Harish Bhalla. Between all the formalities, his children and their supposed apathy, and dealing with his own personal loss, the character of Harish needed an actor as seasoned as Amitabh Bachchan. A great example of casting done right!
Rashmika Mandanna’s Tara is the logical, rebellious daughter who sees no reason for the family to go through rituals that her mother would’ve never liked. She questions sexist customs like not allowing women to cremate their parents but is constantly brushed aside. When she confronts her super busy brother, Karan (Pavail Gulati), about these customs, he shrugs her off since he barely has time to get off work calls even during the funeral. But what seems like indifference at first is actually his coping mechanism, going back to the main premise of the story. Grief doesn’t look the same for everyone.
If you go with your parents for Goodbye, life could be a rollercoaster for you for a few days after. This film can either trigger uncomfortable conversations about and within your family or it could prompt your parents to send you on a massive guilt trip. Fair warning, Goodbye is meant to make you bawl, so don’t go for this movie thinking that you’ll come out with a dry eye. In other words, carry extra tissues.
Do make it a point to watch this film, however. It’s a poignant watch and doesn’t take sides in a debate that exists in every Indian family.
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