I believe Shakun Batra’s Gohrayan is the victim of its marketing. It sells to OTT-streaming, discourse-based, experience-gaining crowds that take modern relationships #relatively. Bollywood audiences who have not listened to indie music have chosen the indie music soundtrack, along with promotions and word-of-mouth arguments about intimacy. He was not a big fan of what I saw. It’s like Netflix’s Little Things: Kuhadcore: Anything That Looks Like MilkTost Urban Millennial Love.
But somewhere, I was half expecting it to be a thriller to go down. This is because in 2020, Deepika Padukone called the Gehrayan script “Domestic Noir”.
My favorite storytelling in film and literature is Noir, followed by Horror. When I read “Domestic Noir”, I was immediately intrigued. A few weeks ago, I interviewed Batra and asked what “domestic noir” meant. He gave a vague answer, which I could only guess. I was hoping it would be one that stood close to Woody Allen’s match point. Two couples, two brothers, infidelity, high class environment, all talk of noir; That’s obvious. I prayed that there would be a murder somewhere in the movie.
So, I’m glad I did. Most of the characters in the film lie to each other, pursue their own goals and maintain relationships, which – when effective – break their House of Cards and bring to mind Steven Soderbergh’s films like Sex, Lies and Videotape. Bubble and side effects.
In the meanwhile, when the walls of Sain (Siddhant Chaturvedi) began to close, and he was forced to go through the orbit of the bad choices he had made in his personal and professional life, I realized that Gharyan had decisively entered the Noir region. (More on that later).
Then, as we passed through a feel-good resolution that was only for Batra, the murder, the cover-up, the knife-pulling, the back-in, the twisting in the final shot, I smiled as if I was not the type to go deep. The relationship drama was attacked and fermented by thriller elements. At its core is a thriller that Batra took very carefully (and terribly at the very first act), captivating the audience that this is a kind of film. Their feet will naturally irritate them.
Now, how exactly is Gehraiyan noir?
I love Noir, because it is a medium for telling stories of transgression, deviation, and the subversion of morality. In Noir, the lies we hold up to keep civilization together shine through. This is a style of storytelling that is not always violent, in the name of selfishness, where scary people scare each other.
Noir is often mistaken for a crime movie, a gangster movie, or a detective movie. These movies may be noir, but the opposite is not always true. Goodfellows are not noir. Dick is not Tracy Noyer. Noir is a character, a worldview, an attitude. It is not enough for a film to have a character or characters who violate moral boundaries. There must be a deadly darkness, imminent destruction, and a feeling of being trapped in bad choices, and all attempts to resolve them will only make matters worse.
In Gehrayan, you get the above mentioned violation, distortion and subversion through the characters Alisha (Deepika Padukone), Tia (Ananya Pandey) and Zain who are constantly dishonest with each other.
What brings a sense of lethality to Gehroyan is their past, which traps them and influences their choices. As Paul Schrder wrote in a 1972 essay, Alisha, Zane, and Tia are trapped in a never – ending feedback loop of pessimism, like the Noir characters trapped in an irreversible past, predestined destiny, and all-encompassing despair. The final shot, which can be seen as clever or trivial, is part of the Noir world in Gehryan, where the unrecognized past haunts the present.
A movie has to have a decisive style. In Film Noir, Schrder writes that “the theme is hidden in style, and false themes that are contrary to style are often expressed.”
Gehriyan’s extremist controlled aesthetics, which first misled viewers like me into thinking Kuhadkore, are full of blue, gray, cool colors and muted tones. There will be no warm colors, because this is not a story of warmth. Just as Noir emerged as a tool to explore the post-war American abdomen on the streets, Batra in Ghahrayan takes a scalpel as the abdomen of sheets.
Gehroyan can read and read later – a story about trauma, a story about disbelief, a story about family. The central character in all three readings is Alisha and, to a lesser extent, Tia. But when read as Noir, the protagonist …
Sign, Drifter, Griffter
Who is Sain? Where did he come from? What is his past? How do we know if his cry is true? Unlike Alisha, Tia, and Karan (Dhairya Karva), they each have a verifiable, shared past – and the film authentically narrates their history through the device of home videos – Zane is a puzzle. All we and the characters in the movie know about Sain is what Sain tells us.
Unlike the ambitious young men who call out their dark side in the novels The Postman Only Rings Twice, Double Indemnity or Nightmare Alley – the best noir fiction ever adapted into film. He seduces two women cousins into a family and takes advantage of their differences (whether he was sincerely in love with Alisha or not), deceiving them and the investors. Financial gain. Zane, a mysterious drifter and textbook gifter, feels the knot around his neck slowly tighten. Gahraiyan is best known as a film noir through a scene like Tom Ripley’s.
In fact, we rarely see Zine in Gohrian. We always see him in any scene with Ananya, Tia or Jitesh (Rajat Kapoor). We see him through their eyes. When we see Zane alone, he is seen reacting to a moment when he was with one of these three people. But who is the sign outside of this? Gehryan is modeled on the story of Alisha who fits her past. Zane becomes a stimulant who helps Alisha find herself.
When the financial scams and corporate parts of the story went into full gear, I paid more attention than ever: I have a great interest in the Noir hero (perhaps, sympathy).
Defical Lives writes biographies of James Salis (author of Drive, adapted into Ryan Gosling-starring film), Chester Hims, David Goodis, and Jim Thompson, about American Noir, the literary basis of Film Noir. Noir stories “derive from the realization that there is no moral order other than what a man creates for himself”.
Saying to Alisha, “I did what I had to do,” Zane justifies leaving his mother with his abusive father. When Alisha points out that their unbelief hurts people, Zain responds, “Let it be so.” This morality and hunger for the world makes Zine the ultimate noir hero. The second and third of the film is about him being trapped like a rat in a nightmare he finds himself in. His career is already under threat from investigations by two central government agencies and the wrath of investors. If his illicit relationship is discovered, his career (life; life and career are very much stuck with Zain) will be ruined. Many of the moves in Zine’s life are related to money, the need to climb stairs. With Alisha, Zine seems to hope to abandon his compromises, but his past catches up with him.
Although in Alisha, it is not a complete escape or romance or attraction that drives her to leave Karan and imagine a future with Zane. She also got a taste of the good life on Sean’s boat, and her moves are, to a large extent, motivated by money.
In fact, this dark revelation of a yacht relationship reminded me of Roman Polanski’s first film, Knife in the Water. Schrder writes in his essay on Film Noir’s “Freudian Attachment to Water”; Is the water in the ghoul like Styx?
Noir stories “Salis writes that there was nothing to be done to solve a particular crime or to restore moral order. Of course, crimes were rarely solved – at best, they were often perceived as combined.” In the end, Zine’s death remains unresolved. Alisha continues to hide a terrible secret. We, the audience, meanwhile witnessed the decay of their family.
The only guy who knew what Jithesh was, could have been part of a film noir in the crime world, as an enforcer or hitman, and, among other things, Jithesh who could “deal” with troublemaking mistresses. Jithesh knows the score and he knows what kind of story he is in.