Shakun Batra's third film has been a topic of discussion ever since its trailer was released. Though only three films old, his stories have always had a lot to offer in addition to what is promised in the trailer, and Gehraiyaan, as expected, was no different.
In one of his recent interviews, upon being asked if he had a cynical mindset towards love, Batra replied, "An idealist might call me cynical. But a cynic might call me a realist." This is the ideology that applies to all his characters. Their shades of grey are portrayed beyond the binary of right or wrong and while most writers in India use situations to justify certain actions, Batra just showcases them as plain, blank traits. And the acceptance for his material to be received subjectively is what makes his films a hot topic for discussion.
Like most cinephiles, even I have certain personal standout moments and theories that I would like to share through this article. Before getting into the details I want to alert the readers about the spoilers coming your way.
Naseeruddin Shah's performance is being lauded by audiences and critics and deservedly so, as the man proves his worth despite minimal dialogues and screen time. Also his character is the purest soul among all, someone who lived a lie for the sake of his child, except for one tiny instant. In the scene where Alisha blames her father for her mother's suicide, he comes back with a question. "Did she say that it was my fault?" he asks. We find out later why he does that, but this instant shows us his defensive, human side. It makes me wonder if he would have blurted out the truth if Alisha replied with a 'Yes' to his question.
Several reviews have raised this question. Why do we know so little about a character who is such an essential part of the plot? In my opinion, Zain is someone who understands nothing but business. Just the fact that his lies and deceit can escalate to even a murder proves that the creators just wanted to show this mysterious personality with a very clear but hidden intention. The backstory about his parents might also be a lie, as he needed Alisha and her app to hide his misdeeds. However he may truly have fallen in love with Alisha, or else why would he plan to return Tia's money? But of course, we find out about his top most priority eventually.
It is clear how Alisha, in an attempt to avoid a fate similar to her mother, ended up inheriting her toxic trait. But there is also an aspect to this that involves her father. She left Karan because she could see traces of incompetence and lack of ambition, like she saw in her father. However she ended up with Zain, whose shady personality is similar to her biological father. This makes further sense as Zain used to be an assistant to this man.
Probably the most interesting part of the film because of some major secrets that are still waiting to be uncovered, the end has given rise to several conspiracy theories. While some say Zain will be resurrected for revenge (I sincerely hope not), others feel the second part of this film will be about Tia and her epiphanies and investigations. Contrary to all this, I feel there will be no sequel and that the abrupt, open ending is a well planned creative choice.
The writers of Gehraiyaan led by Shakun Batra have taken the audience for a poetic swim into this metaphorical ocean; something shown very beautifully through a close-up shot of the waves, coming in every now and then. But then in the end they reminded us that we may reach great depths, but it takes a lot more to reach the other end.