Whenever there is a conflict or difference of opinion within the members of the Tripathi family, they opt for a democratic solution where everyone votes, and arrive at a decision that others happily, or unhappily, accept. This forms the very first pillar of The Great Indian Family (TGIF). Then comes diversity, and director Vijay Krishna Acharya, in an attempt to send across a message of oneness, harmony and unity in diversity, unknowingly enters the preachy zone. He ends up serving us a cliched social commentary on Hindu-Muslim divide. And what’s a family comedy without drama, that’s the last and final pillar of TGIF. And be it performances or the dialogues, the film is dramatic to a point that it loses track in more places than one.
Vicky’s sincere performance
Vicky Kaushal’s energy is infectious, and he has a very pleasant screen presence. So regardless of the character he plays onscreen, he somehow makes it believable. In The Great Indian Family, he plays yet another boy-next door (I was still trying to get over his Govinda Naam Mera and Zara Hatke Zara Bachke image), and he does it without any constraints. He’s loud yet subtle, funny yet sensible. And he’s the one who is doing most of the things in the film that is trying to say a lot, but ends up saying nothing substantial. Vicky’s performance still gets the highest points.
Who plays what
Set in a small town called Balrampur, TGIF is about Ved Vyas Tripathi aka Billu aka Bhajan Kumar (Kaushal), who is bought up in a staunch religious and conservative family of pandits. One day he gets to know that he’s actually a Muslim by birth. Everything changes, or at least we are made to think so, as the family is going through this crisis. Tripathi’s father Kumud Mishra (who was out for teerath darshan at the time this news is revealed to his son), chacha Manoj Pahwa, chahi Alka Amin, bua Sadiya Siddiqui and sister Srishti Dixit, have their own ways to come to terms with this revelation.
There’s also a corrupt pandit in Yashpal Sharma with his son Aasif Khan, who tries to exploit the situation and bag a contract for a big-fat wedding. And how do we expect a Bollywood film to be complete without a love angle. So makers bring Jasmeet (Manushi Chillar), as Vicky’s love interest. Sadly, her character arc never goes beyond being a prop, and she ends up being used as just another reference, being a Sikh, to show inclusivity among religions. With such mediocre act, Chillar brings nothing to the table, and don’t even get me started on her dull chemistry with Kaushal.
TGIF brings back focus on the culture of joint families, and how the bond they share — despite all the fights and differences — remains unbreakable. TGIF presents us an ideal family that believes in standing by each other and even if the going gets tough, and situations test their bond, they won’t abandon their own in crisis. TGIF can safely be a called a family entertainer though it could have been more generous with the comedy quotient. There are some funny scenes but jokes are so bland that you don’t really laugh. Dialogues are simple and average. With the plot at hand, TGIF had so many territories it could have gone into, however, Acharya has played it rather safe.
To wrap up…
TGIF is disguised as a tale of advocating the all-religions-are-one ideology. Acharya has returned to direction after five years post the debacle of Thugs of Hindostan. Though he tries hard, there’s something amiss about the whole narrative, which doesn’t let the characters talk to you.
Even with such a stellar lineup of actors, the story remains superficial and doesn’t try to delve deep into anything meaningful. There’s a passing mention of anti-Muslim riots, but only by means of a blink-and-miss flashback sequence. No complains whatsoever when it comes to some rally earnest performances from the ensemble cast.
Overall, The Great Indian Family is nothing more than an average slice-of-life that can be a one-time-watch solely because of Vicky Kaushal’s sincere act. Or maybe the fact that it tries to touch upon an important message, but too much is lost in translation.