‘Goodbye’ Ending, Explained: Did The Children Finally Redeem Themselves? Did Tara And Harish Reconcile?

Get your tissues ready because you’re about to leak from all of your facial sockets. Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s venture into the world of “Goodbye.” When we saw “Queen,” we concluded that Vikas Bahl understands the social intricacies of everyday Indian life tremendously, and it shows in this movie, too, maybe even a tad bit more. Goodbye tells the tale of a family at a loss and how, through culture and society, we are able to overcome our grief after losing a dear one. Dare we say, Amitabh Bachchan gives a stellar performance with the entire cast, who each play their role to a T. This tear-jerker, though, is not for the weak of heart, so trudge along at your own risk. 


Spoilers Ahead

‘Goodbye’ Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

Harish and Gayatri are parents to four children who are now all grown up and live their separate lives away from their family home. Our journey with them begins with Tara, daughter of Harish and Gayatri, enjoying a party as she’s just won her first case in court. Super happy with her victory, in regular Bollywood fashion, she is busy getting drunk and dancing to an Instagram-reel-worthy party anthem, and her phone, which is buzzing with calls and messages, runs out of charge. The club she’s at is DJ-d by her boyfriend Mudassar, so she leaves it to charge at the bar and forgets about it. Woken up the next day by a doorbell, she’s met with a bartender who hands her the phone, and she notices a missed call from her father. She calls her father only to get into an argument with a now-furious Harish. She tells him to take out his anger on her mother and cuts the call. At this time, the bartender, still waiting at the door, mentions that there were many calls from her father, so he had to pick up to see what was wrong. That’s when the bartender was told that her mother had just passed away. Tara is devastated and calls her father again, only to be met yet again with anger. In frustration, she cuts the calls and throws her phone away. The Bhalla family reunion and tryst with sorrow begin at this point due to the sudden death of Gayatri, the glue of their family, scattered with the presence of bubbly friends, nosy neighbors, and a saint who knows it all. While death is by nature a sorrowful matter for those left behind, it is also what brings us together and gives us a new perspective on life. Through Gayatri’s death, we see many changes across the Bhalla family. As we sit and watch this family go through the five stages of grief in their own little ways, we learn about the fear of abandonment and dependency and maybe even why traditions help us in times of grief. 


‘Goodbye’ Ending Explained – Did The Children Finally Redeem Themselves? Did Tara And Harish Reconcile? Is It Just The Same Old Tale Of Modernity Vs. Tradition? 

Throughout ‘Goodbye,’ there is a feeling of dread and melancholy that can’t be shaken off until the end. This is because we’ve been missing Gayatri’s favorite son, Nakul, this whole time. Nakul was climbing a high mountain peak per his mother’s request and was unreachable at the time of her demise. While this entire film is a tear-jerker, the difficulty of telling a loved one the sad truth is the part that pierces the deepest. With fifteen minutes remaining in the two-hour, twenty-minute run time, we see Nakul at a railway station, cherry-eyed and happy. He sees a message from Harish that mentions his mother is unwell and he needs to come home soon. Seeing this, he makes a phone call home, where everyone is gathered in the room with some party makers singing a happy birthday song to Harish. This was all a planned surprise by Gayatri and Nakul. The party makers hand Harish a gift as well: tickets to Paris from Gayatri. Meanwhile, on the phone, Tara just tells Nakul to come home soon; he says his train has been delayed, and he’s taking a cab. He arrives, joyful and oblivious, wondering how the entire family is gathered here. His brothers, who lived abroad, and his sister, who was working in Mumbai, along with his aunt and grandfather, were a miracle on their own. The unfortunate truth about this gathering is that his mother has passed, and so when he goes looking for his “momma,” there is no response. Even writing about it now brings a lump to the throat. Nakul seems to be the most rooted child of the family and the closest to his parents, and he believes that all of this was his fault. The father finally says this is nobody’s fault, accepting the truth and washing away all his anger. He continues to say that one can’t sit and wait for someone to die, and Tara shares a brief moment with him. The movie ends with Nakul and Karan, the eldest son, who previously didn’t want to shave his head as a sacrifice for the purification ritual, finally going ahead and “shedding their egos” to be “reborn,” more mature and cleansed. ‘Goodbye’ is, in part, a routine tale of contemporary vs. old, but it incorporates a fresh take through a display of harmony and co-existence between the two. Tara asks many questions regarding traditional rituals, and at the beginning of the movie, all we see from her is rage. When she meets a saint, who helps the family dissolve Gayatri’s ashes in the Ganges, her stubborn ideas are broken down with understanding rather than aggression, making it clear that there can be harmony between “science” and “faith.” Angad, the adoptive son, steals the show in his first scene of the movie, where he is speaking with Harish on the phone and asks him how he is feeling, after which he delivers the most natural scene of crying after speaking with a parent who has lost a partner. Angad is a naive son who feels close to his parents but is also innocent at heart. This is displayed when he orders a plate of butter chicken and naan while waiting for a flight from Dubai, as that seems most natural to him, whereas his father feels he is disrespecting his mother by doing so. These small instincts sprinkled throughout the film bring a sense of relatability to millennials and their parents.

Neighbors: Our Comic Relief And A Looming Look Over Modern Society – What Are They Here For? 

Vikas doesn’t shy away from using superficial characters as comic relief for a film that, at its happiest, is still painfully bleak. He gives us an insight into the kind of conversation one has at a funeral with the “Chandigarh bubblies” and PP Singh (in particular, the most obnoxious character we’re meant to steer our hatred towards for making us ball our eyes out). An interesting scene is when the ladies discuss sending food over to the family as their “kitchen” would be closed for a few days. This is a display of how our community plays a huge role in individual sadness. As a society, we have been following such practices for centuries without realizing how they are a way of being there for each other in times of need. While PP Singh is a detestable character who uses tradition to order people around, he too has a role in helping the family cope with their emotions by directing them at his “irrational behavior” or sharing the responsibility (with Harish) of taking care of the funeral. Harish is an angry old man that comes to terms with the world around him.


Why Do We Love The Brooding Old Man Counting The Days To The End Of His Life?  

Harish is definitely not a new character in the world of cinema; the most striking characters that remind us of him are Carl from Up (of course) and Ove from “A Man Called Ove” (Tom Hanks starrer in English is called a man called Otto’ which will release on Christmas this year!), both of whom are widowers who cope with their ‘abandonment’ through piercing aggression and hate towards the world as a whole. While these two characters explore the later stages of being a widower, Harish is an infant in comparison. He feels at a loss as he is so dependent on Gayatri for everything. He suppresses these emotions by directing blame on his children when in actuality, he knows his biggest fear is completely loneliness as they all have drifted away from him. Harish hits a realization when he speaks with Gayatri’s “ashes” before pouring them into the river Ganga for salvation. He reaches catharsis here with his display of true emotion and hurt for being left behind in this terrible world and regrets having not spoken to her more like Tara had mentioned. Harish tells the story of his parents, who dropped him off at school every day, only to never return. He remembers the last day he was dropped off and his parents cycling off into a lane on the right and never turning back. He asks a teacher what it means when people say, “his parents are dead.” She points to a man cycling into the same lane as his parents, pointing out that he is visible till a point and then not anymore; “death” means his parents have taken that “right turn” and are cycling on, even if he can’t see them anymore. This anecdote conveys that Harish has moved on from grieving and gives us insight into why he feels this fear of being abandoned so deeply.

By the end of the movie, we know that Tara and the others feel closer to their father, and as a result, Harish is content with his position and feels loved. The scenes in the credits show a happy Harish with his family celebrating and enjoying life after some time has passed, giving us a cheerful ending to “move on” as well.


What Is The Role Of The ‘Pandit Ji’ In Tara’s Self-realization?

The most important character of this film is Sunil Grover’s “pandit ji,” or saint, a philosopher and guide to the Bhalla family. Tara, as seen through the film, is very skeptical as they arrive for the rituals at the Ganga. She is very vocal about her feelings and doesn’t want to be a part of this “nonsense.” When Pandit Ji hears this, he mentions a story about the Queen of Hastinapur. The story begins with a king who sees a beautiful woman and requests her hand in marriage; she says she will agree on one condition, namely that the king cannot question anything she does, or she will leave him forever. The king agrees, and they become wed. When the Queen has her first child, she goes and sacrifices it to the river Ganga, and the king, sticking to his vow, doesn’t ask her about it. The same thing continues seven times; the eighth time, the king cannot withhold his feelings anymore and asks her about it; she says she is the daughter of Lord Brahma, and the saint Vashisth had cursed her so that all her children were born on earth (the human world), and the only way they can go to Heaven is through the Ganga. This story, which makes Tara’s blood boil, gives her a reason to argue with the pandit, to whom she says that we put ashes in the Ganga for phosphate and that there is science behind everything. While Pandit Ji doesn’t deny her ideas, he slowly starts to help her understand traditions through science in a manner she understands. Tara feels enlightened finally, as this is what she has been looking for this whole time—answers, not arguments. Tara realizes that all Pandit Ji is showing her is the path to seeing harmony between science and tradition, both of which give you the same result in the end. His memorable lines to her are when he conveys that all these rituals are done for the ones left behind to feel at peace; it is the stories and memories left behind by a person that they will be remembered by, showing her both sides of the coin. Even though Gayatri is getting moksha (salvation) through these rituals, that is how she will truly be free. 

Did Harish Go To Paris? 

To end on a lighter note, we all know Harish was given tickets to Paris, and even though it was a trip planned for both him and Gayatri, we believe he did go to Paris and explore a new culture on his own as Carl does in Up with Russel to see “Paradise” fall. Maybe that is an adventure for another lifetime.


“Goodbye” is a 2022 comedy drama film directed by Vikas Bahl.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

Latest articles