Goodbye Movie Review: Amitabh Bachchan is in top form in this contrived and at times crude, tearjerker 
Goodbye: Amitabh Bachchan Is In Top Form In This Contrived And At Times Crude, Tearjerker 

‘Goodbye’, Rashmika Mandanna’s Bollywood debut, is another desperate attempt at milking the tearjerker template of a funeral drama that Bollywood seems to have recently ‘discovered’, with nothing new to offer

Director: Vikas Bahl 
Writer: Vikas Bahl 
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Rashmika Mandanna, Neena Gupta, Pavail Gulati, Ashish Vidyarthi, Sunil Grover 
Rating: 2.5/5 

 

A beloved family member suddenly dies and the entire family gathers together to perform the last rites and the rituals that follow. This coming together highlights the conflict between the old and the new generation and makes the cracks in the family conspicuous with each member bringing their personal problems and equations into the mix. There are also those who have joined the family in their grief to shed crocodile tears; for them, death is yet another occasion to click selfies.

 

 

If the story sounds familiar, it is because we have just watched two movies, Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi and Paglaitt, on the same premise last year. But unlike its two predecessors, Goodbye doesn’t come across as heartfelt a film. Even with its few rare poignant moments, it seems like a desperate attempt at milking the tearjerker template of a funeral drama. 

 

The Plot 

 

Goodbye is the story of the Bhalla family, Harish (Amitabh Bachchan), his wife Gayatri (Neena Gupta), and their children (played by Rashmika Mandanna, Pavail Gulati, Abhishekh Khan, and Sahil Mehta). We meet Tara Bhalla (Rashmika) first. A lawyer, she has just won her first case and celebrating at a pub. While she is busy dancing and hiccupping and getting drunk, her mother expires. And her father is unable to reach her. This sets the tone of the movie of children being too busy to care for their parents. Next, it is their eldest son Karan (Pavail), the busy corporate hotshot, who is planning to ‘wrap up’ his mother’s cremation and post-death rituals and be back for the next board meeting. The third child, Angad (Sahil Mehta) is an adopted one and ‘mumma’s favourite’ boy. He is stuck in Dubai and has ordered butter chicken and garlic naan for lunch, which pisses off the father and he rebukes him for partying when his mother has just passed away. The fourth one, Nakul (played by Abhishekh Khan) is unreachable as he is on a mountain expedition.  

 

Not really a picture of an ideal family. Then there are the friends and the neighbors. PP (Ashish Vidyarthi), Harsh’s friend, is a Mr. Know It All uncle when it comes to the rites and rituals related to deaths. He doles out sermons and gets on Tara’s nerves with his ‘unscientific and illogical’ undertakings.  Gayatri’s friends also turn up, but they are more interested in finding the most comfortable sitting arrangement, getting the perfect selfie, and deliberating on whether Gone Gayatri Gone would be a cool name for the WhatsApp group they have created in memory of their dear departed friend. Bahl’s sarcastic take on the tamasha around death is on point, but at times comes across as a tad crude (especially in the scene where Harish reprimands Karan for having sex with his wife on the night of his mother’s cremation and Karan explains that they are trying to conceive as that was what Gayatri had wanted… it was a scene that didn’t add anything to the film apart from a serious dose of cringe). 

 

 

The film is an exploration of grief with some funny moments thrown in, a tale of changing family dynamics, a treatise on why we should stick to our traditions and old values, a coming-of-age story of the stereotypical foreign-settled younger generation who doesn’t care for their parents, etc. Thankfully, Bahl refrains from turning the children into Baghbanesque heartless humanoids and it is the sincere bond among the family members that make the film sparkle in parts.  

 

A Class Act                                                    

 

Amitabh Bachchan as Harish is a masterclass on how an actor can elevate a movie and churn out a great scene out of a mediocre script. Case in point: his monologue with Gayatri’s ashes. The actor shed every ounce of the superstar in him and becomes the formidable actor he is. His portrayal of stoicism, grief, and loneliness is heartbreaking to watch. After Piku, he again plays a similar yet very different ‘eccentric father’ and gives one of his best performances in recent years. The brooding Bachchan is usually always the best Bachchan anyway. 

 

 

Neena Gupta is a delight to watch and her effortless chemistry with Amitabh Bachchan forms the core of this movie. Rashmika, who makes her Bollywood debut with this film, is great, especially in the emotional scene. But her south accent becomes too pronounced too often. Pavail is on point and gives a nuanced performance. Elli AvrRam, who plays Pavail’s wife Daisy, is the foreigner bahu stereotype and hardly has much to do. But she gives an earnest and even performance. Sahil Mehta especially excels in quieter scenes. Debutant, Abhishekh Khan looks natural in front of the camera. Ashish Vidyarthi somehow ends up playing Ashish Vidyarthi in most movies, and this isn’t an exception. Sunil Grover as the knowledgeable sadhu trying to bridge the gap between science and religion is charming.  Arun Bali, who breathed his last on the morning of the release, plays Gayatri’s ailing father. Watching him on screen was one of the unscripted goosebump-inducing moments in the film.  

 

The Mediocre  

 

The script isn’t great and some scenes just drag on and on. It is a film throbbing with stereotypes, with the Bollywood Maa being the focus of the story. But the film makes one emotional. Not because it is a well-made movie but because losing a parent or missing that crucial phone call are thoughts that haunt most children staying away from their aging parents. At some point, the film even feels exploitative. 

 

2022 seems to be the year of comebacks for the #MeToo accused in Bollywood. The filmmaker, who had helmed the Sunil Grover-Ranvir Shorey-starrer web series Sunflower last year, had got a clean chit by Internal Complaints Committee investigating #MeToo charges against him in June 2019 when the complainant repeatedly failed to appear before the ICC. Whether one should keep the art and the artiste separate in such cases is an ongoing and much-needed debate, and if Bahl can reclaim his credibility in the industry is yet to be seen. But, although the film has some good dialogue, there is no denying the fact that the Queen maker has lost some of his artistic spark over the last few years.

 

 

Swanand Kirkire’s lyrics are at times poignant but Amit Trivedi’s music fails to make an impact. Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti’s camera stays faithful to the story. A much crisper edit from A. Sreekar Prasad might have helped the overall experience of the film. 

 

Verdict:  

 

The Baghban-meets-Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi-meets-Piku funeral drama is too contrived for the audience to truly invest in the emotions it tries to create. However, a family drama is a welcome change after the VFX-laden, lavishly mounted films like RRR and Brahmastra. But with the focus on topics like death and grief, it might not be a movie you would want to go for during this festive season.

 

 

Watch it if you are an Amitabh Bachchan fan or an Amitabh Bachchan atheist. It’s not every day that you get to see the superstar give such a subtle and nuanced performance. As for Harish, he proves once again why he is considered one of the best in the business.  

 

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