BOLLYWOOD is taking on relationships in a way that it hasn’t previously.
The recent Amazon Prime film, ‘Gehraiyaan’ (meaning ‘depths’) has a star cast and a straying lead character Alisha – played by mega Bollywood star Deepika Padukone.
For the first time in a Bollywood film, there’s an intimacy co-ordinator, Dar Gai – now fairly routine in the West and where someone is tasked with making sure the actors are comfortable and certain standards are followed for any scenes of an intimate nature.
Directed by Shakun Batra who was also behind the much acclaimed, ‘Kapoor & Sons’ (2016), he shows himself to be very much at the vanguard of Bollywood realism, if we can use that term.
Reviews for the film which dropped on Friday (February 11) have been mostly favourable, while there is no box office to worry about as it is on a streaming service.
Many column inches have also already been devoted to the main subject of the film.
Infidelity has been a subject for Bollywood before – but rarely has it been from a woman’s perspective and one that is not motivated by a male spouse’s prior infidelity.
Some commentators believe that writer-director Shakun Batra is glimpsing right into a millennial mindset and a new generation of people who live and work by new rules.
Yoga instructor Alisha lives with her boyfriend Karan (Dhairya Karwa) and is beginning to re-think their relationship. When she meets her cousin Tia (Ananya Panday) and her ambitious stockbroker fiancée Zain (Siddhant Chaturvedi), sparks immediately fly between her and Zain. A passionate romance blossoms between them, but to the detriment of their partners.
Alisha has had a difficult past and is worried that she will make the same mistakes as her mother. She’s determined not to remain in a dead- end relationship like her parents, so when Zain sweeps her off her feet, it is only a matter of time before they begin their adulterous affair. Zain is cool, calm and collected, but as the story develops it becomes clear this is not the case.
Both Panday and Karwa spoke to www.asianculturevulture.com’s Natalie Barrass in Mumbai about their roles in the film and what comes through is that these young people have relationships in a way that their parents didn’t or simply couldn’t – to many in the West and the diaspora, this is not unusual and possibly shows that in India too the dial is shifting significantly – though it has to be said the young people in this film are materially very comfortable and much exposed to international social mores.
Panday, whose father is Bollywood star Chunky Pandey and whose mother is fashion guru and ‘Bollywood wives’ star Bhavana, told acv that she saw herself a lot in Tia and that perhaps some young Indian women are equally very trusting.
“Tia is really similar to how I am as a person. She’s naïve, she’s trusting – a little too trusting sometimes,” she tells acv in our interview.
“She’s innocent and sees the best in people. But she can also be a bit overdependent and insecure at times as well, and I have a lot of those personality traits.”
She broke through in her role in ‘Student of the Year 2’ (2019).
Karwa whose two previous big films have been hits (‘Uri’, ‘83’) was equally frank about his character.
“Karan is a fun guy, he’s a great friend, but not all great friends make great partners. You meet Karan and Alisha at a point in their relationship when they’ve been with each other for a while now. It’s a human tendency that we get very comfortable with our surroundings, and very quickly we adjust and take things for granted,” he pointed out in our video chat about ‘Gehraiyaan’.
Padukone herself has talked about the novel approach of the film.
“I think it’s pretty fresh. The way this story has been told, and the way in which it explores infidelity is certainly very new.”
The film is made by star producer Karan Johar and his Dharma Productions.
Now watch what Panday and Kawra have to say about it…
‘Gehraiyaan’ is out on Amazon Prime now…