Follow Mint Lounge

Latest Issue

Home > How To Lounge> Movies & TV > ‘Goldfish’ review: Discomfiting and emotional

‘Goldfish’ review: Discomfiting and emotional

Pushan Kripalani’s ‘Goldfish’ is a gentle, poignant study of mental health, ageing and parenting

A still from 'Goldfish'
A still from 'Goldfish'

Memory, loss, identity and mental health are the cornerstones of cinematographer-director Pushan Kripalani’s English-language feature film which he has also co-written with Arghya Lahiri. Goldfish explores the complexity of an estranged mother-daughter relationship where the child of a mixed marriage, even as an adult, is carrying the wounds of her mother’s parenting style. Now, as her mother Sadhana (Deepti Naval) is in her twilight years, encumbered by dementia, a reluctant Anamika (Kalki Koechlin) must return to care for her mother.

Also read: Why doing nothing can be a powerful ‘catalyst’

Set in the UK, during the early days of the recent pandemic, most of the scenes take place in one home or along one street. An intimate and emotional study about reconciliation and letting go, the film also features Rajit Kapur, Gordon Warnecke (My Beautiful Laundrette) and Bharti Patel (the BBC series Doctors), Ravin Ganatra and Shanaya Rafaat as kindly neighbours and friends. Kripalani gently builds the sense of community and support available to a woman solitary in her home and in her anguish as her memory begins to fade. 

Anamika is surprised by her mother’s popularity, in view of her own dislike for her only living parent. Sadhana’s situation is juxtaposed with that of her neighbour Lakshmi Natarajan, a former nurse whose wish to return to work during the pandemic is shot-down by her daughter. This creates a rift in the Natarajan household. On the other side, a young mother is contending with a crowded home populated by well-meaning grandparents. The corner store owner becomes an unexpected thorn in Anamika’s side.

The writers adeptly unfold distortions of memory and differing perceptions of the same event. Koechlin and Naval bring depth to their characters in a narrative that is occasionally sweet, often discomfiting, and emotional. The confrontations are harsh at times, the reconciliations are loaded. Kripalani’s camerawork and lensing capture the coldness of the home and the loneliness of its inhabitants, interrupted by music representing Sadhana’s profession as a classical singer on BBC radio. 

Koechlin captures the confusion of a woman navigating her own life’s challenges (work, debt) while observing her mother who sometimes does not remember her child. Naval presents Sadhana with all her present vulnerability and traces of her past belligerence, shades of which are visible in Anamika too. She’s hurt by her child’s dismissal of her past, of her Indian antecedents. The writers use language to lightly convey a softening. Goldfish is a gentle but poignant study of mental health, ageing, responsibility, perspectives on a particular moment and parenting.

Also read: Nandita da Cunha's latest is a cosy weekend read for all ages




Next Story