‘Goodbye’ Teaches Us to Take Care of Our Loved Ones Before It’s Too Late to Say Our Goodbyes
- The movie may not have done well at the Box office because it is a bit long and lacks the typical “mirch masala,” but it made me very emotional and tired.
The 2022 Bollywood film “Goodbye” on Netflix is a dramedy written and directed by Vikas Bahl and produced by Bahl, Viraj Savant, Ekta Kapoor and Shobha Kapoor.
A young lawyer Tara Bhalla lives away from home in Bengaluru. After winning her first case she is partying hard and leaves her phone at the nightclub. The waiter returns her phone the next day, and in a hangover haze, she hears the traumatic news that her mother Gayatri has died. She has missed several calls from her father Harish, and also from her now-deceased mother.
Harish Bhalla played by Amitabh Bacchan is overwrought with grief and targets his angst towards his (seemingly insensitive) children as they trickle into the family home in Chandigarh: Tara played by Rashmika Mandanna, a South Indian actress in her Hindi film debut, comes across very contrary, argumentative and against anything unscientific. Her Hindi accent is interesting but her rebellious nature seems contrived. Karan (Pavail Gulati), lives in Los Angeles with his wife Daisy. Nakul (Abhishekh Khan), his second son is on a Himalayan trek. And an adopted son Angad (Sahil Mehta), lives in Dubai and loves butter chicken.
All of them are confused at the sudden demise of their mother and are at each other’s throats. There are several outbursts, witnessed by their golden retriever called “Stupid” for no fault of his own. He seems like the wisest member of the family. He and Arun Bali, who plays the aging nanaji (he died shortly after the film’s release). I liked Payal Thapa as Delna — Gayatri and Harish’s foster daughter and Angad’s love interest. No over-acting there.
I like Ashish Vidyarthi, as PP uncle, he reminds me of the “all-knowing” priest from the Arya Samaj Mandir in New Bombay — interfering busybody. Gulshan Grover assumes the role of a new age panditji in Haridwar who streams the legend of Ganga and Shantanu on his laptop and takes it upon himself to teach Tara and the kids the meaning of rituals. Why do Hindus disperse the ashes in the holy water, why do we touch the feet of elders, where does the departed soul go?
The three women cast as Gayatri’s neighbors are very authentic. The way they complain about sitting on the floor and her cause of death to other random subjects after Gayatri’s death is classic. But what I did not expect was that they would click a selfie and form a Whatsapp group with ludicrous options like “Dead Gayatri, Lonely Harish, Gone Gayatri Gone, Harish Ji Needs us to Chandigarh Babblis.” I am certain there are many aunties like this in every nook and cranny of India.
After the visit to Haridwar, sharing their collective grief, partaking in Ganga Aarti and famous chole bhature, they all seem to get along. The boys even shave their hair, in a symbolic gesture of sacrificing their egos. The American daughter-in-law knits a bohemian cardigan for her father-in-law to cover up her prior faux pas of trying to eat the apple offering on the banks of Ganga. Even Tara’s live-in boyfriend Mudassar (Shivin Narang) a Muslim DJ, is welcomed to the fold over mint chutney sandwiches and red wine.
The kids who take their larger-than-life mother for granted, come together as a family. Well played Neena Gupta as Gayatri Bhalla, an epitome of affection and inclusiveness but in her death. The scenes where she is coloring Bachhan’s hair, enjoying a glass of wine, having her husband braid her hair, adopt a kid or a puppy are stellar! Amitabh Bachchan’s performance is also commendable. He seems to blend into the role of a hapless widower with aplomb.
The movie may not have done well at the Box office because it is a bit long and lacks the typical “mirch masala” but it made me very emotional and tired. The cinematography brought back memories of my dear mother’s recent demise. The 2021 film about a similar topic “Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi” was more gritty, multidimensional and comical but “Goodbye” teaches us to take care of our loved ones before it’s too late to say our goodbyes.
With one foot in Huntsville, Alabama, the other in her birth home India and a heart steeped in humanity, writing is a contemplative practice for Monita Soni. She has published hundreds of poems, movie reviews, book critiques, essays and contributed to combined literary works. Her two books are My Light Reflections and Flow through My Heart. You can hear her commentaries on Sundial Writers Corner WLRH 89.3FM and the Princess Theater.