Gullak (Season 3): Recap & Ending Explained: Growing up, the family drama genre on India’s small screen was (and still is) dominated by Ekta Kapoor’s weird brand of saccharine “sanskaar” and poisonous internalized misogyny (in addition to regular misogyny). Post Sacred Games (2018-2019), we saw a shift in TV shows as they began to pivot towards hyper-violent, mega-complex, and sometimes unnecessarily sexualized series. This push and pull between these two extreme forms of storytelling created a vacuum in which people just wanted some comfort, some nostalgia, and enough complexity to make for an engaging viewing experience. And, in my opinion, TVF and SonyLIV’s Gullak (2019-ongoing) arrived at the right time to fill that void, armed with its stacked cast and a return to the true blue episodic storytelling.

Spoiler warning: This article contains major spoilers for Gullak Season 3.

Gullak (Season 3) Recap:

Originally created by Shreyansh Pandey, Season 3 of Gullak is directed by Palash Vaswani and written by Durgesh Singh. As always, it revolves around the Mishra family which is made of Santosh (Jameel Khan), Shanti (Geetanjali Kulkarni), Anand (Vaibhav Raj Gupta), and Aman (Harsh Mayar), their neighbor Bittu Ki Mummy (Sunita Rajwar), Anand’s friend Lucky (Saad Bilgrami), and the narrator, i.e. Gullak (Shivankit Singh Parihar). And within the first 10 minutes of the first episode, the aforementioned people and the team around them deftly set up the stakes of the entire season. They are as follows: money issues (as indicated by the Mishra family attempting to save money by regulating the air-conditioner’s temperature), the pros and cons of Anand’s job in a pharmaceutical company, and Anand’s future in education after acing his Board exams. In fact, it largely hinges on which school Anand is going to attend and the subjects he’s going to take up as the decision will govern how much money Santosh, as well as Anand (since he’s an earning member of the family now), has to spend.


Episode 2 throws a one-two punch at Santosh as he is requested to join his office’s workers’ union (which is protesting against the electricity boards proceedings) by his Bade Babu (Vishwanath Chatterjee) and upon rejection, weirdly enough, he is presented with his LTA (Leave Travel Allowance). While Anand is seen expanding the reach of his pharmaceutical business, Santosh relishes the fact that he has got his LTA (that he hasn’t claimed, by the way) by buying sweets and promising to take the family on a vacation to Kashmir! This leads to an argument between Santosh and Shanti because Shanti is convinced that just like always, Santosh isn’t going to take them anywhere. To mitigate the explosive situation, Santosh requests Shanti to go for a family dinner at a fine dining restaurant. And just when it seems that some respite is on the horizon for the Mishra household, Bittu ki Mummy drops in, thereby turning the family dinner and their traveling plans into a symbolic outing of sorts.

Gullak Season 3 (1)

Episode 3 marks the return of Santosh’s Agwa avatar after his friend from the village (Ambrish Saxena) shows up with his daughter Furteeli (Ketaki Kulkarni) to get her married. Santosh dives headfirst into his task to find a suitable candidate for Furteeli while Shanti takes care of Furteeli by simply talking to her, assisting her to the parlor, and lending an ear to her trepidations about her marriage. And while Santosh is confident that the guy he has found for Furteeli is husband material, Furteeli isn’t very sure about it because, among many other things, the guy made fun of her name. Shanti thinks that if this is the situation on the first meeting itself, there’s no point in taking a chance on it and therefore urges Santosh to call off the wedding. Initially, Santosh doesn’t want to because it means his choice is wrong. Eventually though he understands Shanti and Furteeli’s perspective and calls off the engagement. Things are kept open ended regarding Furteeli’s future as her father looks visibly distressed about the cancellation. However, it’s indicated that the move is freeing for Furteeli.

Episodes 4 and 5 take a dark turn which is predicted very heavily by Shanti. Early on in Episode 4, we see Aman’s educational aspirations take a nosedive as he faces suspension for submitting sugarcane juice for his Chemistry test after failing to come up with the correct solution. He confesses to Anand that he has been quiet due to family pressure, but he doesn’t care about science and math. Instead, he is more interested in arts and wants to pursue a career in that direction. And while that is beautiful and poetic, Anand understands that that’s difficult news to break to their middle-class parents who have already invested enough in Aman’s future. So, they spend the entire runtime trying to quell Shanti’s fears about impending doom by holding a religious ceremony and looking out for the postman who will deliver Aman’s suspension letter. But all that effort and praying flushes into the gutter as another letter arrives that’s addressed to Santosh Mishra, accusing him of engaging in corrupt activities and cutting him off of his pension and other privileges.

Gullak (Season 3) Review:

It is truly baffling that Gullak has never missed a step. Yes, Season 2’s inclination towards a more serialized storytelling was different from Season 1’s bottle-episode style of storytelling. But even then, it managed to be funny, tense, and heartbreaking. Season 3’s writing is right in the middle as it never veers too far away from the overarching narrative and still manages to tell a complete story in one episode. The Mishra’s very existence is emblematic of the struggles of the upper-caste, Hindu, middle-class families of India and hence political in nature. That said, Season 3 feels more political (which is a good thing) as it tackles topics like how systemic oppression leads to the oppressed oppressing someone else, unionizing, corruption in government agencies, subverting patriarchal norms, and most importantly how during times of distress, it’s the people around you who come to your aid. Not the government, despite claiming to be of the people, for the people, and by the people.


Apart from a few unresolved (minor sub-plots) involving the sugarcane juice maker (who seemed like someone who was going to factor in when the Mishras were struggling financially and Aman was unsure about his job) and the girl that Aman crosses a couple of times (all of which could be red herrings), there’s nothing to complain about Gullak Season 3. The production design from Episodes 1-5 is immaculate. Every room, every piece of furniture, every street, every vehicle, every piece of costume has that lived-in feeling to it that the show has become synonymous with. The cinematography by Shiv Parkash is pitch-perfect. The way he frames dialogue scenes and the melodramatic moments should be studied frame-by-frame and taught to the millions of showrunners who are churning out mediocre products. Gourav Gopal Jha editing is marvelous. The overall pacing of the show is seriously mind-blowing. And the way he regulates the tempo of each and every conversation and focuses on the minute expressions of all the characters is educational.

Special mention for Anurag Saikia’s music and background score, which is absolutely spectacular.

That brings us to the cast. The chemistry between Jameel Khan, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Vaibhav Raj Gupta, and Harsh Mayar is so electric that they feel like an actual family. Unless the editing or the cinematography goes into slow-motion or the narration, you might even forget that you’re not watching a documentary, but a scripted show. Durgesh and Palash manage to make room for every single actor to shine and they don’t just hit their marks but knock it out of the park. Throwing every acting award in the world their way won’t be enough to match up to the acting prowess of Khan, Kulkarni, Gupta, and Mayar. Among the supporting cast, Sunita Rajwar and Sachin Chaudhary (Bittu) are amazing. There’s no scientific or subjective methodology to explain how Rajwar walks the fine line between making her character annoying and adorable at the same time. Bilgrami, Chatterjee, and Saxena are fantastic in the few minutes they are on-screen. Ketika Kulkarni subtly steals the show by quietly expressing Furteeli’s repressed emotions and urge for liberation.


Also, Read – The 25 Best TV Shows of 2021

Gullak (Season 3) Ending Explained:

As mentioned before, things take a dark turn at the end of Episode 4 as Santosh Mishra is accused of partaking in corrupt activities, thereby causing his suspension and the reduction in his salary. Episode 5 opens on that note with the family wondering what caused this. While it’s evident to us that Santosh’s suspension is a result of his non-participation in the workers’ union protests at his office, this is the first time that Santosh admits to his family that he stood by the government feeds him instead of his colleagues. Anand assures the family that he’s going to take care of everything, which involves his brother’s education and, well, everything that’s needed to run a household. Santosh decides to request Bade Babu to undo the suspension because, technically, he hasn’t done anything corrupt and the accusations are false. Shanti orders Anand to go with Santosh to the meeting and that’s when Santosh starts to feel the heat of not having a job (albeit temporarily).

The meeting with Bade Babu doesn’t go well as Anand loses his cool upon witnessing Bade Babu’s disrespect towards his father Santosh. But Santosh scolds Anand by telling him that ultimately it’s Santosh’s workplace and that is Santosh’s boss. So, Anand has no right to cause drama there. After sending Anand away, Santosh pleads one more time to revoke the suspension. Bade Babu doesn’t comply and sends him away. Demoralized and depressed, Santosh makes his way back home, thinking that everyone who is looking at him is aware of his suspension and is shaming him behind his back. At home, those fears are kind of confirmed through Bittu Ki Mummy’s nagging. Santosh locks himself in his bedroom saying that he’s too tired and needs to get some sleep. Anand manages to send Bittu Ki Mummy away and then goes to the bank with Aman to look for whatever bits and pieces of money they have in various accounts.


Anand and Aman return to find that their father is still asleep. Initially, they don’t assume the worst but the fear does start to creep in that something wrong has happened. So, they start to panic, finally breaking the door into the bedroom and realizing that Santosh isn’t asleep but unconscious. They rush him into the hospital, where he is immediately put into the ICU. After several tantalizing minutes, it’s revealed that Santosh suffered a heart attack but he is going to recover. While waiting for Santosh to be discharged from the hospital, Anand and Aman have a heart-wrenching conversation about what was going through their mind while carrying their father’s lifeless body and the measures they were planning to take if he didn’t make it through. Anand receives a call from Lucky who wants Anand to meet Prinsu Bhaiya (Amar Singh Parihar) for some undisclosed reason. A majorly dejected Anand tells Lucky that he doesn’t need his help anymore and rhetorically asks him where Lucky was when Anand needed him the most. Aman thinks about aborting his dreams of pursuing a career in arts, but Anand says that he’s not going to let that happen.

Although it’s not indicated how much time passed, the narrative shifts to the Mishra household with Santosh back home, partially recovered and surrounded by his family and friends, who assure Santosh to not fight his battles alone when his loved ones are around. As the neighbors leave, Lucky comes in with Prinsu Bhaiya and Bade Babu. Everyone’s a little startled because tensions are still high. And Prinsu Bhaiya reveals that the person, i.e. Bade Babu who is trying to damage Santosh’s reputation under the pretext of engaging in corrupt activities and not being a part of the workers’ union, is in fact guilty of taking Prinsu Bhaiya’s help to get employed. Hence, Prinsu Bhaiya commands Bade Babu to not just apologize to Santosh, but also undo his suspension. Therefore, in a way, Anand’s work as a “karyakarta” in Prinsu’s party bears fruits, literally and metaphorically. The show ends on an incredibly optimistic note as Santosh tells Anand to never do a job that distresses him and opt for something that he is passionate about (words every kid who can afford to follow their dream is raring to hear).

Gullak (Season 3) is streaming on SonyLIV


Gullak (Season 3) Links – IMDb
Gullak (Season 3) Cast – Jameel Khan, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Vaibhav Raj Gupta, Harsh Mayar, Shivankit Singh Parihar, Sunita Rajwar, Deepak Kumar Mishra

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