It needs great guts, passion and will to conquer the concern cinema aficionados of the world by amazingly confining itself in the maze of shanty lanes of Delhi, exploring the mazes of human narrow-mindedness, prejudice, machismo and more.
GALI GULEIYAN (English title: IN THE SHADOWS) is a probingly twisty, brainy and dark thriller that sees the actor Manoj Bajpayee delivering a master class in acting in this ambitious movie by Dipesh Jain that metaphorically conveys the conflict between the darkness inside humans, the emotional entrapment, loneliness, togetherness, sins, guilt, freedom and hope.
A begrimed loner Khuddoos (Manoj Bajpayee), an electronics repair guy resides in those narrow, dingy, shanty lanes of Delhi. Khuddoos is obsessed with his role as a peeping tom who peeps into his neighborhood through the CCTV cameras, as you watch Khudoos, he is watching those people in his control room, and one of them can be you or someone you may know. The activities of these strangers living in his and/or adjacent lanes of Khuddoos keeps him busy, probably that’s the only ‘conversation’ which the lonely Khuddoos is willing to have. Apart from those cameras’s Ganeshi (Ranvir Shorey) his friend is the one he speaks to. One night he hears the voice of a boy getting beaten from the walls. The noise makes Khudoos paranoid and he decides to rescue the boy without having any clue. As Khuddoos struggles in finding his way out to help the boy, the story of Idris (Om Singh) his mother Saira (Shahana Goswami) and his chauvinist father Liakat (Neeraj Kabi) runs parallel.
Incredibly intense, director Dipesh Jain’s GALI GULEIYAN gives a passing thought of the master Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 masterpiece ‘THE CONVERSATION’ where a sound surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is hired to track a young couple (Cindy Williams and Frederic Forrest), taping their conversation in a befitting attack on the invasion of technology on the privacy of humans. On second thought GALI GULEIYAN takes the debate raised by Coppola’s classic further and places it in modern times when technology has invaded our privacy, the world is more complex, the tolerance level is minimum and prejudice is rampant. The importance to listen and hear is so vital nowadays in this ‘paranoid’ mindset that prevails in every hook and corner of every city. The title is apt and adds to the mystery and misery, Dipesh Jain weaves an intriguing tapestry that threads the disturbing dark and selfish nature of humans with a crafty finesse. Right from the opening frame that begins with William S. Burroughs’s quote “There are no innocent bystanders … what are they doing there in the first place?” GALI GULEIYAN holds you tight, engulfs you in its dark lanes and when it’s done, starts haunting you.
Manoj Bajpayee from the spirited gangster Bhiku Mhatre in SATYA, to the eccentric Raghavan Ghatge in AKS, to the brilliant Rashid in PINJAR, to the incredible Sardar Khan in GANGS OF WASSEYPUR – PART 1 to the incomparable Ramchandra Siras in ALIGARH, in a career spanning 24 years, Bajpayee has displayed a rare diversified range of characters, Khuddoos is by far his most complex and challenging role and the actor delivers a master class. From performance point of view, GALI GULEIYAN is Manoj Bajpayee’s show all the way, his body language, his nuances, the way he observes people in his control room smoking that beedi, having his morning tea and bread as those happenings on his monitors are matters of life and death. Khuddoos is not just a loner, it’s a character study where Manoj Bajpayee perfects his skills and powers the film with a new intensity. He speaks less but makes the audiences react to his moves. A master class indeed!!.
Ranvir Shorey is outstanding and the shinning ray of hope in this darkness, Neeraj Kabi proves his mettle once again, like a true chameleon on screen, he transforms into the skin of his character with such ease is truly incredible. Shahana Goswami as the simile of tolerance and acceptance is brilliant and so effortlessly natural. Debutant Om Singh spurns a surprise and he is a bundle of talent.
Technically, a well crafted piece of art, GALI GULEIYAN is remarkably toned in the right shades of light and darkness by Kai Miedendorp’s camera. Chris Witt’s editing is first rate, those intercuts are just brilliant.
On the flip side, GALI GULEIYAN is not for those souls who seek entertainment only in that song dance and over the top action masalas. Somewhere the movie gets repetitive.
Premiered at the Busan International Film Festival 2017 and winning accolades at the Mumbai Film Festival 2017 as The Jury Grand Prize India Gold winner for writer director Dipesh Jain. Fetching the best actor award for Manoj Bajpayee at the New York Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival this year, GALI GULEIYAN has travelled to 20+ festivals and gained praises.
The movie deserves attention not only for Manoj Bajpayee’s class act, this pointing, dark and intense psychological drama is disturbing but relevant which depicts the dark side of humans, the prejudice, the importance to be heard and listened in today’s times.