Verdict: A cinematic masterpiece that traps you within its darkness.
A number of globally acclaimed Indian movies are making their way into theatres this month. One such lesser-known and film festival-worthy movie is Gali Guleiyan (In the Shadows) by Dipesh Jain. The film premiered at the 22nd Busan International Film Festival and was also screened at the MAMI Film Festival 2017, Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, and the Atlanta Film Festival. Starring Manoj Bajpayee in the lead role, this psychological drama revolves around a man trapped within the walls of a city as well as his own mind.
WHAT’S GALI GULEIYAN ABOUT:
Khuddoos (Manoj Bajpayee) is not like most middle-aged men. He spends his time indoors, spying on his neighbors. He begins to hear the cries of help from a teenager being beaten by his father. In his obsession to save the boy, Khuddoos begins to lose touch with reality and becomes antisocial.
In a parallel storyline, a boy from the same neighborhood catches his father (Neeraj Kabi) having an affair. He cannot confront him, as he fears being beaten black and blue, but his attempts to evade his father or run away do not turn fruitful. Meanwhile, his mother (Shahana Goswami) is pregnant for the third time and the arrival of a new baby might just turn his life upside down.
Like most of the films he stars in, Manoj Bajpayee does a fantastic job and is pretty convincing in his role of a man losing touch with reality. Neeraj Kabi and Shahana Goswami as the menacing father and loving mother also deliver great performances. The casting is impeccable and one of the highlights of the film.
The background score used in the film is meant to trap you within the city walls, so you feel the pain behind Manoj Bajpayee’s character. It is difficult to break free of the claustrophobic feeling the film gets within you. You feel trapped in your seat, unable to look away or leave. The cinematography artfully takes you through many areas of the slums Khuddoos lived in. With narrow paths and settlements all around, the film manages to entrap you in the expanse of the slums, quite literally and metaphorically.
What Could’ve Been Better:
Even at two hours, the movie seems long and slightly dragged. Many scenes are stretched out for cinematic effect, so you need to stay patient and let the film trap you into its darkness. If you are a fan of psychological thrillers and enjoy doing guesswork, you might predict the climax halfway through the film.
Why You Should Watch:
The film is a must-watch for Manoj Bajpayee’s brilliant performance. Even the cinematography, film score, and the supporting cast give you plenty of reasons to watch Gali Guleiyan at least once.