Tragi-comedy with Amitabh Bachchan and Rashmika Mandanna is an Awkward Genre

The wide humour and heavy-handed sentimentality in Amitabh Bachchan and Rashmika Mandana’s picture succeed best when the emotion periodically rises to the top without the belabouring.

A common issue is how to deal with death and its consequences. In “Goodbye,” a Chandigarh family that has been dispersed to the four winds is told how each member of the family learned of a loved one’s passing.

In an empty house where the deceased’s ghost is still very much present, the story also explores what occurs after you return.

We recently watched two movies on the same topic, “Ramprasad Ki Terhvin” and “Pagglait,” both of which centred on large joint families in tiny villages. The only Chandigarh-specific elements in “Goodbye” are a few sardars and a large group of mourners who have a Punjabi accent.

However, what we see is a large enough immediate family rather than distant relatives. Three sons, a daughter, an aunt, a grandfather, and the grieving husband who lost his loving wife are all present.

Another well-known mechanism is how an unexpected death can bring distant family members together. And that is the main goal of Bahl’s most recent movie, who appears to have moved over his #MeToo claims. That and getting the audience to cry.

The uncomfortable blend of genres in “Goodbye”—tragi-comedy, broad humour, and heavy-handed sentimentality—works best when the emotion occasionally rises to the surface without being belaboured.

And that is due to the bond that the bereaved Harish (Amitabh Bachchan) had with his beloved late wife Gayatri (Neena Gupta).

The two get along well. Gupta, who ought to have been on the screen for more time, shines.

And Bachchan, after a long time, allows himself to halt and inject true feeling into his character as a husband who is unsure of what to do with himself now that his lodestar has disappeared and a father who is attempting valiantly to bring back the previous level of connection among his flock.
Yes, there is the standard monologue—could a Bachchan movie exist without one of those?

Death serves as a coming-of-age catalyst for the siblings. The insistence on tying up these loose ends—the sons (Pavel Gulati and Abhishekh Khan) agreeing to “sacrifice” their hair for their mother’s “aatma” to achieve “Shanti”; Tara, the only daughter, on her way to becoming a successful lawyer, initially resisting the pressure of “tradition,” finally making peace with it—feels uncomfortable crowd-pleasing.

A young housekeeper who is elevated to the family table by a scantly-delivered romance, Tara’s Muslim boyfriend who attends the funeral, Sahil Mehta, Tara’s adopted kid and his mothers self-described “favourite” all serve as examples of the “progressive” features. Additionally, a nosy family friend named Vidyarthi comes and leaves.

If each character had been given any depth, it would have been possible to develop a very distinct cosmos, but all of them—including Mandana, who receives the second-most screen time after Bachchan—remain surface-level and speak to rather than to one another.

The attempted humour that surrounds the sorrow is offensive and irritating. The “modern-day” pandit at Haridwar, cheerfully portrayed by Sunil Grover, livens things up a bit but is once again used as a teaching tool for the youth, who unsurprisingly learn to grin instead than growl at one another.

Their cute Labrador, who had stopped eating, gives in to the temptation of food. Again predictably, the movie emphasises that life continues.

The flavour of the connection between an older guy and a younger lady, how they met, and the loneliness of the one left behind are the final things you should remember.

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