Gali Guleiyan movie cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Om Singh, Neeraj Kabi, Shahana Goswami, Ranvir Shorey, Arbaaz Khan
Gali Guleiyan movie director: Dipesh Jain
Gali Guleiyan movie rating: 3.5 stars
Many films have been made about Old Delhi by those looking in. In this film, Old Delhi looks out, through the eyes of a man who lives in its many labyrinthine lanes, cheek by jowl with others, in midst of ruins, in times of old, in gullis that go nowhere, amidst terraces with no gaps, only catching once the glimpse of a sliver of a sky.
Here past is present, present is past. Decades may pass and nothing might change. Decades more will go, and nothing will. So, is it a wonder then that Khuddoos (Bajpayee) is losing himself within it? Who is it that he hears speaking through the walls? Whom is it that he spies on through his cameras? What does he hope to hear? Whom does he want to see? What does he want to escape? Why is he so interested in the boy, Iddu (Om Singh), he believes is as lonely, as need of help, as him?
That sense of loneliness is profound in Gali Guleiyan, especially when Khuddoos’ brother meets him after 23 years and says he never came looking as he didn’t know he was still there in the old neighbourhood. Only friend Ganeshi (Shorey) keeps track, dropping by with food and company when Khuddoos goes days without being seen.
Bajpayee is good as always in portraying the increasing loss of self, but it is Om Singh as Iddu who really stills your heart with his blank eyes, that stare back from a face bathed in a film of sweat. Kabi and Goswami play his parents, both weighed down by their circumstances.
The film, however, runs aground quite early on, trying to stretch its premise of a psychological thriller too thin. The slow pace, when you may have caught on what is happening, can seem an exasperating indulgence then.