The Great Indian Family

wogma rating: Watch but no rush (?)

quick review:

It would’ve been nice if secularism weren’t shoved down our throats.

Then again, it would’ve been nice if secularism didn’t need to be shoved down our throats.

The latter raises the film above what it is cinematically.

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Running time: 110 minutes
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It makes me happy to see the likes of Aditya Chopra and Vicky Kaushal back such a project. Why? Because it is brave.

It over-simplifies the layers of othering in real life—making characters, or rather, entire ethnicities black and white. Or shall I say…

It makes me miserable that this has to be considered brave. Whereas it should have been just a witty documentation of the past—at most.

Nevertheless, I am glad that this made it past certifications and mob bans.

I am sad that what it says has to be said so blatantly, void of any subtlety or artistry.

It is nice though that they give the basic story the context from history. It is something that viewers of a certain age group can relate to.

It would have been nicer if they had let the melodrama go. After all, the topic is dramatic itself.

It is pretty cool that despite the slo-mo to enhance the drama, the film clocks under 2 hours. Also, it is paced just right. Starts slow, and builds up heading towards a goal that it had set itself.

It makes me miserable that this has to be considered brave. Whereas it should have been just a witty documentation of the past—at most.

The same thing makes it not-so-cool, though. The film stops to make a point. So much so that it feels like you are being force-fed a sermon.

But hey, if that’s what it takes to reach its target audience, the ones who are as confused as some characters are in the middle of the film, then so be it.

As much as I would like to accept it, a constant narration is jarring even if the intentions are noble. Even though Vicky Kaushal tries his best. Fortunately, he surpasses himself in his act with his portrayal of confusion, with his comic timing. If only, he didn’t have to narrate so much.

When the narrator takes a break though, the film is clever in the way it touches upon so many current and very relevant issues. From how a democracy can mistreat a minority, to how it can come together to help the troubled too.

In doing so, at times, it over-simplifies the layers of othering in real life—making characters, or rather, entire ethnicities black and white. Or shall I say green and orange?

Yet, maybe it is that simple. And simplification is the need of the hour in real life. Because the microcosm created by the film’s characters and their community is well done, even if devoid of real-life complications. The nesting of family dynamics as a representative of community politics was finely executed too. The good writing extends a spark to the dialogue. The same goes for the lyrics, they are appropriate, insightful, and unpredictable. It has been ages since I could so effortlessly focus on the lyrics, that is a credit to the music too.

When so many things were going reasonably well, why did the hero have to steal the show from the lead lady? That too when that is the only time the lady was going to have any role to play at all. It single-handedly made all the feministic talk to follow seem like whitewash. Especially since we would not have missed the feminism if it weren’t there. Because that is not what the film is about.

I wish the above was given the same thought and attention as was given to sustain the political tone of the film—from the glasses that a character portraying calm and truthfulness wears; to the subtle remarks on the foolishness and gullibility of a certain section of the population.

I also wish that in doing the right things, they had paid attention to doing it right too. Instead of turning it into a classroom lesson on speaking a language, understanding a culture, etc. And as if the most obvious has to be said out loud for people to realise that their ways are wrong.

Can it work like so? Can one strong character make a bold statement that it will make people see the light?

Well, I don't want my hope to die. So, if this is what it takes to change hearts, I am on board.

- meeta, a part of the audience

20 reviewers(?) - 3 yays 14 so-so 3 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Simran Singh, DNA : ...Overall, The Great Indian Family is an enjoyable treat for a family. If you are done watching hard-hitting actioners like Jailer, Gadar 2, and Jawan, this one is worth a watch.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...I was so worried about how a nation might react to a film that I forgot I was part of that nation. The genial tone reminded me of my own childhood in Ahmedabad in the Nineties, back when bigotry hadn’t gone mainstream yet. Back when patriotism and religion were not such loaded terms. It says something that nostalgia is a form of imagination today. It’s not as if a film like this doesn’t take itself seriously; it’s that the film is asking us to not take ourselves so seriously.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rishil Jogani, Pinkvilla : ...Vijay Krishna Acharya's The Great Indian Family is definitely recommended. It's a film that deserves to be watched along with the family. There is a hope that the strong messaging of the film will be able to create a larger overall impact. Go book your tickets.... full review

So-So, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...The film must be watched for the important message it conveys. Religious harmony is the need of the hour and should always be preserved.... full review

So-So, by Murtuza, Filmi Beat : ...Overall, The Great Indian Family is not a great watch; the performances save this average film.... full review

So-So, by Lachmi Deb Roy, FirstPost : ...The Great Indian Family is a very lazily made film and not much thought or hard work has been put in the method of making the film. The script is much below average and I feel that filmmakers need to understand that the cinema viewers are much more enlightened now. They want a story that will make them think... full review

So-So, by Rohit Bhatnagar, Free Press Journal : ...TGIF should be retitled as Thank God It’s Friday so that people have two more days to dilute the amount of maltreat they have been offered with this so called fresh film which is nothing but a lecture on spreading religious harmony.... full review

So-So, by Nitin Jain, : ...The music of the film is composed by Pritam and lyrics written by Amitabh Bhattacharya. The only song that registers is ‘Kanhaiya Twitter Pe Aaja’, which happens to be one of the ‘bhajans’ by Bhajan Kumar. Beyond this there isn’t much to write about.... full review

So-So, by Monika Rawal Kukreja, Hindustan Times : ...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.... full review

So-So, by Anvita Singh, india today : ...The songs are forgetful, and the direction is very one-toned. The film keeps it simple and has a running time of less than two hours, which works in its favour. If it had been longer, 'The Great Indian Family' would have become a complete snooze fest.... full review

So-So, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...The Great Indian Family could have been a film of far greater acuity, but the broadsides that it aims against narrow-mindedness through the story of a family as a microcosm of a society and a nation do find their mark.... full review

So-So, by Sonil Dedhia, : ...Overall, The Great Indian Family is an easy-going family entertainer that won’t bore you. But, it won’t leave a lasting impact either.... full review

So-So, by sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...For all its brethren blah blah and pooh-poohing of prejudices, there's no Muslim voice to be heard in its jumble of Brahmin supremacy and Hindu infighting. Things are far too lopsided to appreciate a lecture on unity in diversity. The Great Indian Family sees rising intolerance as a game of snakes and ladders and democracy as a ritual for arriving at a domestic decision. Voting may begin at home, sure, but the venom now runs too deep.... full review

So-So, by Deepa Gahlot, : ...The crisis of faith may have been artificially inflated, but when questions of identity and orientation become crucial to survival, it becomes imperative to raise them. One only wishes that The Great Indian Family had been less superficial. There was Dharmputra as an existing model.... full review

So-So, by Anuj Kumar, The Hindu : ...There is an interesting sequence of events where Ved tries to be a Muslim by changing the colour of his outfits and his eating habits and by adding a nukta to every word he utters. It ends with a Sufi blessing him to have taufiq (divine guidance). This is perhaps what we all need.... full review

So-So, by Pratikshya Mishra, The Quint : ...But I later realised that the climax feels more hammy than preachy. It is so highly dramatised that it forgets the film’s own setting. People who have arrived in a mob in the quest for “truth” stand silently and listen to the hero’s monologue. The ‘people can change’ messaging needed a lot more nuance than this film afforded.... full review

So-So, by Dhaval Roy, Times of India : ...The family drama lacks a compelling storyline and narrative to keep you hooked. While Billu's shenanigans with his friends are mildly entertaining in the first half, as the story progresses, the narrative loses its punch. The premise of the film is well-intended but the impact of what it meant to do does not translate on the screen. The Great Indian Family has a genuine message but fall short in execution.... full review

Thumbs down, Bollywood Hungama : ...However, a film like this should have ideally had more humour and more hard-hitting scenes. THE GREAT INDIAN FAMILY has neither. The goings-on that occur after Ved’s Muslim identity is revealed doesn’t create the desired impact. The romantic track is also weak.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...If you want to be brave, the writing needs to match: here, even such wonderful actors like Mishra, Pahwa, Siddiqui stand no chance. Neither does the always watchable Vicky Kaushal. Done well, this could have been such a crucial film for these times when we are being pitted against each other. Such a pity.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sameer Ahire, Movie Talkies : ...The differentiation between Hindu and Muslim people needed a better commentary than this. You can’t try to tackle such a sensitive issue with childish humour and illogical segments. The same subject could have easily had a better screenplay and better direction, and then, I think, we would have had a better film. As a whole, it’s a great subject with an ungreat vision.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

1 readers - 0 yays 0 so-so 1 nays

Nay! Thumbs Down, by Raj : Intent - but... execution..?

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A couple of scenes from a riot. Nothing too graphic.
  • Language: clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A lip-to-lip.
  • Concept: Secularism
  • General Look and Feel: Sepia, an attempt to keep the look realistic

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

The Great Indian Family - Cast, crew, links

Official Sites:
Lead Cast:
Background Score:
Music Director:
Costume Designer:
Running time:
110 minutes

Comments (1)

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Dear Meetu, a thoroughlly indepth review so apt that I hope Aditya Chopra and Vijay Krishna Acharya would read..

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