Gehraiyaan is a slow-burn, engrossing noir drama that draws you into its immersive narrative, which tells us, “Life is all about making decisions. Let us put this all behind us and move on.” Shots of the deep sea and its rolling waves serve as a subtle leitmotif in the film, reminding you of life’s mysteries, innumerable choices, and the momentum of progress.
But are decisions and moving on really that simple? Not for Alisha, a yoga instructor in Mumbai who is at a crossroads in her life. She has a strained relationship with her father, who lives in Nashik.
She is also haunted by memories of her mother’s demise. Furthermore, obstacles stand in the way of her entrepreneurial endeavours, and the spark in her six-year-old relationship with Karan, an aspiring author, seems to have petered out.
When she finally catches up with Tia and her fiancÃ© Zain, sparks fly between her and Zain. She finds herself drawn to him. Then, burdened by the uncertainty of their relationship, she attempts to avoid Zain. But, eventually, after Zain persuades her that the feelings are mutual, she succumbs to the relationship.
So far, so good, but when the plot abruptly shifts from romance to noir, ‘Gehraiyaan’ becomes a far less predictable, far more volatile storey whose twists and turns revolve around human selfishness and the desperate lengths to which it can drive people.
Craftily, the plot is tense on the brink of a psychological drama with its painful uncertainties, extremes of emotions, and the onslaught of hormones. The struggle to strike a balance is innately dramatic.
Shakun Batra’s brilliance lies in creating a relaxed but stylish thriller from these ingredients, in which suspense is accompanied by a struggle for survival instinct and, perhaps most importantly, hope.
Deepika and Siddhant are sincere in their roles as Alisha and Zain; attractive and responsive, with an instinctive ability for calm expression and restrained emotions. They form a completely dependable pair of complementary forces.
Tia and Karan, played by Ananya Panday and Dhairya Karwa, are equally enthusiastic supporters. They are both impressive and genuine.
Naseeruddin Shah as Alisha’s laidback dad, and Rajat Kapoor as Zain’s cold and calculating colleague, are both stoically effective but perfunctorily limited by the script.
Cinematographer Kaushal Shah’s location shots, whether inland or over water, in Alibaug or Mumbai, look grim and evocative, perfectly in sync with the film’s breathtaking rhythm.
Overall, ‘Gehraiyaan’ holds your attention until the very end.