From Kumbalangi Nights to Kapoor and Sons, here’s our pick for the best movies featuring dysfunctional families
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Last Updated: 03.10 PM, Mar 07, 2023
Families in films are often exaggerated for effect. Packing eccentricities that hardly seem plausible, they’re depicted through a lens that seems entirely divorced from reality. And this couldn’t be more true than in the case of movies featuring dysfunctional families. And if you loved the Manoj Bajpayee-Sharmila Tagore-starrer Gulmohar on Disney+Hotstar, here are similar movies that you need to stream right away:
The Royal Tenenbaums
Wes Anderson’s films often lean on the filmmaker’s signature tropes. One of them being adolescent characters who’ve matured early and adult characters who aren’t particularly bright. This aspect of his storytelling comes to the fore in the 2001 film The Royal Tenenbaums, where the three Tenenbaum children, Chas, Margot, and Richie go from bright overachievers as children to disenchanting underachievers as adults. This is largely attributed to the shortcomings of their father. The film’s central plot revolves around how a family’s patriarch, played by the legendary Gene Hackman, resorts to desperate measures to reconnect with his estranged family. Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, and Gwyneth Paltrow play the three Tenenbaum children. Other prominent roles are played by Owen Wilson, Danny Glover, Bill Murray, and Anjelica Houston, while Alec Baldwin serves as the narrator.
Kapoor & Sons
The family patriarch in this film, a cherubic geriatric played by Rishi Kapoor, has a penchant for pretending to be dead for his own amusement. But this odd gag takes a dark turn when he actually suffers a heart attack. His grandsons from the US and UK are immediately summoned and all hell breaks loose. Kapoor & Sons furnishes a dysfunctional family like any other. Each member concealing a secret and contempt for each other which when provoked, surfaces, leading to much drama. But this Shakun Batra directorial is a well-restrained film that assembles the chaotic events that sometimes simultaneously explode and yet, manages to retain our attention and interest. The film also stars Sidharth Malhotra, Fawad Khan, Alia Bhatt and Ratna Pathak Shah and this one’s a famjam that evokes a churn of emotions, leaving you hungry for more.
Widely regarded as one of the best Malayalam films in recent years, Kumbalangi Nights, was a groundbreaking production directed by Madhu C. Narayanan and written by Syam Pushkaran. The story follows the lives of four brothers from a dysfunctional family in the island village of Kumbalangi. Through each of the four brothers and their personal challenges, the narrative explores various themes of self-discovery, mental health, redemption, and caste and class discrimination.The film’s stunning visuals and vibrant sound design elevate the gripping screenplay, and it features an ensemble cast of Shane Nigam, Soubin Shahir, Sreenath Bhasi, Mathew Thomas, Anna Ben, Grace Antony, and Fahadh Faasil as the eerie antagonist.
Meet the Parents
The cult classic 2001 film Meet the Parents stars Ben Stiller in the lead as a man named Greg Focker, who is invited to his girlfriend’s parents' home for a weekend visit. But the awkward first meeting turns out to be far worse than he could’ve imagined as it is revealed that his girlfriend’s father Jack, a former CIA operative, does not approve of Greg. Greg’s attempts to impress Jack and his wife backfire spectacularly each time, and it makes for the film’s hilarious central premise.Hollywood legend Robert De Niro essays the role of Jack, Teri Polo as his daughter and Greg’s girlfriend Pam, Blythe Danner as Jack’s wife, and other supporting roles by Jon Abrahams and Owen Wilson.
Adapted from the 1966 Bengali classic Galpo Holeo Satti, Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Bawarchi has to be among the filmmaker’s most revered comedies. The film, unsurprisingly, revolves around a domestic cook who is hired to serve the motley clan that constitutes the Sharma family. Each member in this household has a certain eccentricity and couldn’t be bothered about the other. The bawarchi’s job, in this case, goes beyond the perimeter of the kitchen and involves helping each member with their distinguished problem, while attempting to iron out their differences. Played to perfection by the late legend Rajesh Khanna, this film’s bawarchi Raghu offers an unconventional lead who doesn’t subscribe to the typical mould of a Hindi film hero and yet, manages to acquire a space in our hearts. The film also resonated with many for comically conveying that even families who are perennially squabbling can actually get by with a little compassion and understanding. So in a way, they’re trying to suggest that there’s still hope for ours? Bawarchi’s popularity triggered subsequent remakes in several regional languages, including Sakala Kala Vallabha and No 73 Shanthi Nivasa in Kannada and Hero No 1 in Hindi.
Dutta Vs Dutta (2012)
To pick the best Bengali movie about a dysfunctional family would be a tough call, especially considering the multiple options at hand. But if you’re in the mood to meet a kooky family which packs an eclectic mix of quirks, you’re in luck. Set against the Naxal movement in 1970s Bengal, Dutta vs Dutta introduces us to the family where squabbling brothers are constantly bickering and slamming each other with insults, often assisted by their wives, sometimes mediated by their domestic helpers. The daughter falls for a neighbourhood uncle who’s perennially over before eloping with a Naxalite. The patriarch refuses to accept his measured financial situation, an alcoholic mother and a grandson struggling to find his feet are just a few curious characters from this crazy clan. It’s all there, including a few Bengali numbers inspired by Dylan’s signature riffs. Directed by Anjan Dutt, the film received much critical acclaim and was recognised for its soul-stirring tracks.
Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)
Only a handful of films in recent decades have managed to craft a family like the Mehras from Dil Dhadakne Do. A privileged bunch, the Mehras are portrayed as a family that carefully refrains from expressing themselves and are too preoccupied in meeting societal expectations. This leads to hilarious exchanges and some rather awkward situations when they must confront crucial life decisions or accept difficult circumstances. At a point when the Mehras are being threatened by financial ruin, they invite their friends and relations for a lavish European cruise just to keep up appearances and maintain their social standing. But like most families, despite their differences and hostile feelings for each other, they band together in the end. Starring Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma, this film also has a pooch for a sutradhar, voiced by the incredibly talented Aamir Khan.
Well that's all the time we got for this episode, I will see ya in the following one, until then its Nikhil signing out.
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Written by Kunal Guha and Ryan Gomez