Goodbye tries to balance out religion and science

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Amitabh Bachchan in Goodbye. Photo: Universal Communications 

The effort shows—perhaps too much.

Tara (the second rebel of that name this week after the other social, Maja Ma) lives in Mumbai and is partying—hard!—as she has won her first court case. She ignores calls from home in Chandigarh, only to find out the next morning that her mother (Neena Gupta) has suddenly passed on. Her father, Harish Bhalla (Amitabh Bachchan), with whom she does not see eye-to-eye, has been left alone.

Like a dutiful daughter, she leaves for her hometown, accompanied by her boyfriend Mudassar (Shivin Narang). She has three brothers, of which Karan (Pavail Gulati), stationed abroad and married to Daisy (Elli AvRam) arrives there as well, followed by adopted son, Angad (Sahil Mehta). But Nakul (Abhishekh Khan) is missing.

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The film now gets to business: religion vies with science. Tara is all for rational thinking and progressiveness—she holds little regards for rituals, even when a neighbor (Aasish Vidhyarthi), a self-styled expert in such matters, tries to take over in the last rites. She feels that her mother was too progressive for her to need all the rituals after she has passed on.

Harish is now miffed with his sons Karan and Angad, who, he feels, do not care for his late wife. Nakul comes in too late, when the funeral rites are over, and preparations for the 13th day rituals are underway.

The film had terrific potential to make a statement and take a stand on many matters, from children-parent relationships to sibling ties, apart from looking with dignity at death, and at the loneliness of an old man. All it succeeds at is in being—most of the while—on an overdrive to make susceptible viewers reach for their handkerchiefs.

A few telling and revolutionary points are made, but the overall effect is, at best, a namby-pamby one, and, at worst, a compromise in what it wants to say.  And not even Amitabh Bachchan’s studied turn as a widower and a grumpy father can really alter that. The film could have well openly promoted a blend of religion with modernity, but it pretentiously claims to change established mores and then succumbs to moving towards traditionalism. A pandit (Sunil Grover in excellent form) is the vehicle for this, like when he points out that everything that we do not understand is not necessarily untrue.

Amitabh Bachchan strides tall among the performers here, and his best sequence is that with the urn containing his wife’s ashes. Neena Gupta as his now dead wife is seen in spurts and is a delight. Rashmika Mandanna really needs to work on her accent if she to succeed big-time in Hindi films. Her acting is spot-on but handicapped by this feature. The rest of the actors are okay, just like the technical aspects of the movie.

As usual nowadays, the background music (whether done by the song composers, as in this case, or not) is better than the songs—Amit Trivedi has done both the jobs here. Director-co-writer Vikas Bahl does not reach the heights of Queen but remains superficial and erratic, much like his last film, Super 30.

This is yet another of so many missed opportunities in Hindi cinema.

Rating: **1/2

Good Co., Balaji Motion Pictures & Saraswati Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. present Goodbye  Produced by: Shobha Kapoor, Ektaa R. Kapoor, Viraj Sawant & Vikas Bahl Written & directed by: Vikas Bahl  Music: Amit Trivedi Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Rashmika Mandanna, Neena Gupta, Sunil Grover,Pavail Gulati, Abhishekh Khan, Sahil Mehta, Shivin Narang, Elli AvrRam, Ashish Vidyarthi & others

 

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