February 11, 2022
“I’m stuck, I’m stuck, I can’t breathe ma,” a young Alisha (Deepika Padukone) tells her mother as a sweater gets caught over her head.
But the solution is simple: her mother deftly pulls the sweater down. Voilà, she says. I’ve got you. Wasn’t that easy?
The world of Gehraiyaan (“Depths”), the latest directorial venture from Shakun Batra — behind hits such as Kapoor & Sons (2016) — opens with a pastiche of memories Alisha has of her mother. They have moved to more rural Nasik from urban Mumbai, and her mom is lonely. They are playing snakes and ladders, and Alisha points out that it’s okay if her mother has lost. They can start over. Her mother’s grim expression hints that that’s probably not true. Alisha’s haunting memories imply that the story didn’t end well.
Despite the movie’s trailer, which implies that the storyline centers an affair between Zain (Siddhant Chaturvedi), Alisha’s cousin’s fiancé, and Alisha, Gehraiyaan really isn’t about cheating and sex. The movie is more about the relationship between a mother and a daughter, a father and a daughter, and the things we carry with us — and the things we choose to let go.