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Gotro trailer: Seeking harmony through stereotyping?

The question is whether the film, directed by Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee, can rise above cultural appropriations.

Roushni Sarkar

The official trailer of director duo Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy’s next film Gotro is out, and the narration by Mukherjee gives us some idea about the story.

The trailer begins with Bapi (Kharaj Mukherjee), a building promoter, trying hard to persuade the septuagenarian protagonist Mukti Debi (Anushua Majumdar), the protagonist, to hand over her cherished palatial ancestral home Gobinda Dham.

In a veiled threat, Bapi also refers to the almost routine news reports about old people being deprived of care by their children while pursuing the house and then getting depressed or committing suicide.

To prevent the continuous harassment of Mukti Debi, one of her acquaintances employs a former criminal, Tareq Ali (Nigel Akkara), as her bodyguard. Mukti Debi is a strict lady who performs various purifying rituals throughout the day and insists that Tareq Ali do the same.

As per Mukherjee’s narration, the film, slated for release on Janmashtami, is the story of a mother and son, Mukti Debi and Tareq Ali. Mukherjee draws on the story of Yashoda and Krishna to introduce Mukti and Tareq.

Tareq is not happy at all at having to obey Mukti Debi's rules. Both have regular quarrels and differences of opinion. However, it is Tareq’s dedicated service of Mukti Devi that helps the latter stand up against the odds when Bapi tries to play the communal card to corner her for allowing a Muslim to serve prasad on Janmashtami. Mukti Debi declares that for her only Tareq’s identity as a human being matters and his name or religion hold no significance.

As the reader may have guessed by now, the film appears to have a stereotypical storyline that aims to deliver a message of harmony. Nigel Akkara seems extremely frigid throughout the trailer, hardly showing much emotion despite the strange situations his character is involved in. Also, while the film wants to narrate a tale of harmony, it uses the stereotypical characterization of a Muslim as a criminal.

We will have to wait until the film is released in theatres to see whether Gotro rises above cultural appropriations. Meanwhile, watch the trailer below and let us know if you are keen to watch this film.

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