Should the last rites of a person be performed as per their wishes after their death or as per the customs and traditions that have been in practice for years? Director Vikas Bahl poses this question to the audience in his latest film Goodbye, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Rashmika Mandanna and Neena Gupta. Bahl tries to explore this constant tussle between the rigidity of dogmatic practices and one’s urge to take nothing at face value just because something has been prevalent for years. All this while, he also turns the light on the communication gap between parents and their children.
Goodbye is a tearjerker with several emotional moments but without a cohesive narrative. The screenplay is laced with humour even as the family deals with grief. This juxtaposition keeps you engaged. And despite its flaws, the film has its appeal. Here are three performances that make Goodbye a decent watch.
Harish, the family patriarch
The film opens with the death of Gayatri Bhalla (Neena Gupta). Her husband Harish (Amitabh Bachchan) asks his children to come home for the last rites of their mother. There is palpable tension between Harish and his daughter Tara (Rashmika Mandanna) from the word go.
Harish is reminiscent in parts of Raj Malhotra from Baghban and Yashvardhan Raichand from Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. He always needs to have the last word in any argument. His strictness with his children has created a wall of silence between them.
Amitabh Bachchan carries this film on his shoulders. His silence speaks volumes about the pain of losing his companion of many years. He is vulnerable, because he is staring at an uncertain and lonely future without his wife but he cannot appear weak in front of his children. This dilemma is magnificently portrayed by Bachchan.
Tara, the outspoken daughter
Rashmika Mandanna’s Tara is a free-thinking, modern girl who chooses science over superstition. A lawyer who has just won her first case, Tara never gives up in an argument, much like her father, and questions rituals that don’t make sense to her.
Her constant conflict with her father is one of the major highlights of the plot and Rashmika delivers an assured performance as a feisty woman in her Hindi film debut.
Sunil Grover, the enigmatic priest
Comedian Sunil Grover plays a priest in Goodbye who performs the asthi visarjan ritual for the Bhalla family. But his real task seems to be sowing the seeds of faith in Tara’s mind. He is a mysterious character, almost like an incarnation of god, who wants to change Tara’s mind about her approach to traditions. Grover’s sudden disappearance in the crowd is a spiritual awakening moment for Tara, who realises the significance of faith in our lives.