Gehraiyaan: Ending Explained (In Detail)

What happened when Alisha met the old lady at the end of ‘Gehraiyaan’? Did her secret ever come to light?
Gehraiyaan: Ending Explained (In Detail)

After talking about messy families through Ek Main aur Ekk Tu (2012) and Kapoor & Sons: Since 1921 (2016), filmmaker Shakun Batra focused his lens on the messiness of the individual in Gehraiyaan (2022), though family still played a major part in the narrative of the film. More central to the storytelling on this occasion was the trauma of one’s past and how it melds with the present, how it can tear apart an accepted reality, and how a small correction to the narrative causes crises.

The Surface

Alisha (Deepika Padukone) is a yoga trainer who lives in Mumbai with her struggling writer boyfriend Karan (Dhairya Karwa). She is trying desperately to get a fitness app off the ground but there is little investor interest in her undertaking. Coupled with Karan’s unemployment, the anxiety she has from her mother’s suicide when she was a child, and her estrangement from her father Vinod (Naseeruddin Shah), Alisha is obviously not in the best headspace.

Then one day, her cousin Tia (Ananya Panday) walks back into her life, accompanied by her fiancé Zain (Siddhant Chaturvedi), who has a troubled past of his own — an abusive father and a mother he abandoned to pursue his dreams. Alisha and Zain engage in trauma-bonding, which quickly slides into stolen moments of intimacy, which then progresses into a full-blown affair.

The Beginning, Middle, and End of the Affair

Alisha and Zain embark upon their covert relationship with all the energy of a pair of hormonal teenagers, hooking up on his yacht, in five-star hotels, in her house, and stealing mini-vacations. Their bond is further solidified when Zain offers to invest, through his real-estate business, in Alisha’s app, seemingly setting her up for good.

Then Karan proposes to her. Presumably a little taken aback by the very public nature of the proposal, she accepts, and then makes a half-hearted stab at breaking up with Zain. But her discovery of Karan’s concealment of his novel leads to a split on that front instead and she reconciles with Zain, Karan now being out of the picture for good.

On Tia and Zain’s anniversary, Alisha tells him she’s pregnant. Just then, his company is placed under investigation because of money laundering charges against one of the investors. Alisha’s studio, paid for by the same company, also falls under the scanner. Soon, his colleague Jitesh (Rajat Kapoor) learns about the affair. Tia decides to mortgage her property to help the company out, but Zain sells it instead, and the two have an argument in which she accuses him of having an affair. When he fabricates proof to the contrary, she guiltily signs over the property papers.

Things get even worse when Alisha, who was under the assumption that Zain was breaking things off with Tia, discovers that he has taken her help financially. When she threatens to tell Tia everything, he turns to Jitesh for damage control. Jitesh suggests he take Alisha out to sea and drug her, terminating the pregnancy. The plan goes awry when Alisha sees Zain spiking her drink, and in the scuffle that follows, he falls overboard, his head smashing against the side of the yacht before he drowns.

Alisha rushes back home, devastated by the drastic turn of events, and subsequently meets up with Tia when Zain’s body is recovered from the sea. At the morgue, she sees Jitesh in conversation with the police, and he pops up at Tia’s house later to talk about the deal they were supposed to have concluded. When Jitesh threatens to aid the police investigation which, he assures Alisha, will prove her presence on the yacht, she assists him in securing the documents of the property.

It is when the deed is done that Tia reveals the secret she has spent the film’s entire runtime grappling with: that her father and Alisha’s mother had an affair, making her and Alisha half-sisters and not cousins.

The revelation forces Alisha to question her entire life and how she has spent it, the decisions she has made, and her relationships, especially with the man who raised her.

When asked why he never told Alisha the truth, Vinod gently replies (as only Naseeruddin Shah can) that the truth would have achieved nothing, that Alisha’s mother’s life was about more than just the affair she had, that he couldn’t have destroyed the memories she had left of her mother. He asserts at the end of the scene that he is her father, suggesting that the relationships we knowingly forge supersede mere biology.

The Ending

Two years later, Alisha and Vinod share a much-improved relationship and she appears to have put the past behind her as she heads for Karan’s engagement party, where she meets Tia for the first time since Zain’s death. They talk about moving on from the awkwardness that has clouded their relationship and agree to make amends.

Then Karan brings across his fiancée's grandmother, whom Alisha and Zain had met during one of their many trysts. The lady recognises Alisha instantly, and the film cuts to black instantly, suggesting that she has yet to follow the sage advice of her father: to accept what has happened rather than attempting to escape it, and to choose to move on. By ending the film before Alisha can respond, Batra leaves her response open to the interpretation of the audience while reiterating that a person’s past will always catch up with them.

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