The Great Indian Family review: Meet the Balrampur Ka DharamPutra?
What: The Great Indian Family – Vicky Kaushal starrer made under the YRF banner borrows a relevant idea from its mentor’s Yash Chopra’s sixty-two-year-old directed social drama made under B.R. Chopra Films - Dharmputra (1961 - based on a novel of the same name by Acharya Chatursen). Dharmputra starred Mala Sinha, Shashi Kapoor and Rehman in pivotal roles.
The Great Indian Family movie synopsis
Bhajan Kumar urf Ved Vyas Tripathi aka Billu (Vicky Kaushal) is a popular bhajan singer from a small town. Hailing from a brahmin pandit family whose business is to conduct religious pooja’s and rituals.
One day Bhajan Kumar and his traditional family comes to know that Bhajan is a Muslim by birth.
Ab kya hoga aage?
DharamPutra – the 1961 national award-winning movie had the same topic of a man brought up by a Hindu family played by Shashi Kapoor (who is against Muslims comes to know that he is Muslim by birth).
Interestingly, DharamPutra based on a novel of the same name by Acharya Chatursen is directed by the pioneer of YRF Studios - Yash Chopra. This can come as a surprise for those who considered Yash Chopra as the highly celebrated messenger of love on screen. The same Yash Chopra has helmed Deewar, Trishul, Kaala Patthar, Waqt, the above said social drama and Darr.
Coming back to The Great Indian Family, while the message of Dhartiputra of communal harmony that supported the Nehruvuian secularism was melodramatic at times loud but certainly clear. It was brave and had the guts to ask questions openly and Shashi Kapoor played the role of a right-wing Hindu.
Sixty-two years later the believer of escapism without the opium Vijay Krishna Acharya the man behind Tashan, Dhoom 3 and that great Indian Dud Thugs of Hindostan attempts to make some sense out of this circus called The Great Indian Family.
The Great Indian Family is a film which tries to prove its point every now and then without having a strong supportive sequence, scene or a build-up.
The subject/idea is brave but the execution is gutless. A big mistake that filmmakers make is when they have a strong explosive topic but in totality, they just scratch the surface and are afraid to dig any deeper.
The idea might have been to present the important core issue in a lighter manner but not everyone can be a Raju Hirani (Munnabhai, 3 Idiots) or the latest Amit Rai (OMG 2) to that matter.
A dependable Vicky Kaushal’s coming of age from a brahmin boy who thinks family is the snake in the snake and ladder game, the child who suddenly discovers his talent to sing bhajans accepted but why on earth is the boy ashamed of telling his classmate that his father is a renowned priest of the town.
If the message was to highlight the dependence of Hindus on religion and rituals, sorry it falls flat.
Ironically, The Great Indian Family restores o stereotyping of characters in delivering the message of bhaicahara.
Pandits have big choti, tilak, wear dhoti and Muslims are in Kajals (Kohl, topi). The understanding of Islam is restricted to “As-Salaam-Alaikum” (Peace be unto you) and "Wa-Alaikum-Salaam," (And unto you peace).
What is the difference?
A Parsi doctor, a dying Muslim mother, a kind Hindu couple who bring up a Muslim child and raise it as their own, a kind Muslim family who gives shelter to that Muslim born boy raised in a Hindu family as his people are now against him.
The complexities of identity politics which is fuelled mainly by religion, caste system and gender needed more sensibility to earn the liberalism it propagates which is actually not earned.
It’s sad to see the dependable Vicky Kaushal giving all he has but not able to elevate the movie’s serious shortcomings. Seasoned actors like Kumud Mishra, Manoj Pahwa, Yashpal Sharma etc give their one hundred percent but the writing and the execution by Vijay Krishna Acharya fails to give the justice it deserves.
And by the way, what on earth Manushi Chhillar as the punjaban Sahiba doing in this film.
The Great Indian Family – Final words
The Great Indian Family should have been a proper film at the time when we all are pitted against each other and the war of agendas is in full swing. But there is nothing great about this Balrampur ka Dharamputra ya say Iss Yug Ka Dhartiputra (yeh title bhi ho sakta tha). What say..
Anyways an unsolicited advice - if you are fond of melodramas and support Nehruvian secularism then watch the national award winner DharamPutra made under BR Chopra Films and directed by the legendary Yash Chopra…