By Deepa Gahlot
A top shot at the end of the Dipesh Jain’s Gali Guleiyan, shows the narrow bylanes of old Delhi like the kind of maze used by scientists to study the behaviour of rats.
One of these rats is Khuddoos (Manoj Bajpayee), who has lived in a shabby house all his life, while his family “escaped”—he says this to the brother who comes to visit him after years, with a selfish agenda. So isolated is Khuddoos that he has no idea of the location of his brother’s house. He keeps track of the neighbourhood through a complicated network of cameras. His only touch with the outside world is his friend Ganeshi (Ranvir Shorey), who drops by with food and advice.
Running parallel to this story is that of Idris (Om Singh), who lives with his sweet mother Saira (Shahana Goswami) and autocratic father Liakat (Neeraj Kabi), who tries to bully the boy into learning the butcher’s trade. Khuddoos hears sounds of distress through the walls and becomes obsessed with saving the boy, though, without Ganeshi’s constant intervention, he is unable to save himself from hostile neighbours. Idris also has one loyal friend Ginny (Arbaas Khan), who accompanies him on video parlour excursions that are a relief from his bleak life.
The two tracks come together in a contrived way, but the plot is not the strength of the film. This is a filmmaker’s film in which he plays with his craft, turning the inescapable labyrinths of a decrepit Chandni Chowk area (shot by Kai Miedendropwith an unerringly astute eye) into a study of urban misery. Gali Guleiyan seems like a nightmare that suffocates Khuddoos and Idris. How can anyone live in those dank homes and remain sane? Om Singh’s blank face and Manoj Bajpayee’s haunted eyes answer that question. The slow and fragmented film may not appeal to everyone, but Bajpayee’s Khuddoos is a master class in acting.
About Gali Guleiyan
Gali Guleiyan is a psychological drama about a man trapped in the bylanes of Chandni Chowk.
Director: Dipesh Jain
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Ranvir Shorey, Neeraj Kabi, Shahana Goswmi, Om Singh and others
Posted on Sep 07, 2018
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best known entertainment journalists. A National Awardwinning film critic, Deepa has watched more movies and theatre than most people in the country. An author of several books on film and theatre, she has had an extremely successful run as head of theatre and film at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, during which she helped nurture several original productions. For Xyngr, Deepa Gahlot reviews theatre and cinema.