Monday, August 04, 2014

अस्तु - So be it

Will I be the same person without my memories? Will the people who love me now continue to love me even if I treat them as strangers? Never recognizing or acknowledging their existence. Most relationships are give and take. If the take stops, how long before the give gets diverted in other, more fulfilling directions.

The strong point of this movie, for me, is the superb acting by the whole cast. Mohan Agashe, as the sanskrit scholar losing his memory to dementia is as masterly as ever. Iravti Harshe, as the elder daughter struggling with her father's illness and the expectations of her young children has given an intense performance. Nachiket Purnapatre and Amruta Subhash have played their parts to perfection.
The theme might be the illness. But in typical Sumitra Bhave - Sunil Sukhtankar style, the movie touches a lot of emotions, dilemmas and paradoxes which are part of our ordinary lives. I was troubled by one particular shade. The elder sister Ira (Iravati Harshe) comes out as maternal and caring kind of a person. She refuses to keep her father in an old age home in spite of the mounting difficulties and tensions resulting from his erratic and at times violent behavior. This obviously is taking a toll on her. The younger sister Rahi (Devika Daftardar) is of an altogether different nature. Clear, frank, without attachments and rational to the core. She casually suggests that their father is no longer their father and it is OK to let him spend the rest of his days in an institution. After all, he won't even know the difference!
This, to me, felt like a very easy but unfair classification. One sister full of empathy and care, the other equipped with cold hard reason. Why can a rational person not be empathetic? Why was these to traits always portrayed as opposites? Are they really, or is it just a lazy typecasting done to avoid confusion. What category would you put a person who has both? Because there has to be a category, oh yes. During an emotional outburst Ira mentions that the whole Bhagwat Geeta happened because of Arjun's रुजुता. His empathy. But that was not his weakness. It was his strength, to be able to be someone else. To think from their perspective. Perhaps Arjun was both kind and reasonable. After all, he agreed to, and did what need done. Didn't he?

The movie is about losing context. All our lives we collect memories and build context. People recognize and relate to us by that shared knowledge. But perhaps, while these nitigrities are being worked on, there is something else building up in the deep. Perhaps that can be called the real you. Which exists without context. As Chanamma (Amruta Subhas) says in the end 'देव झालाय त्याचं. सगळं सारखच दिसतकी हो त्यांना'

That said, the movie was not without goof ups and inadvertently funny stuff. Ira listening to their father sing O Rahi O Rahi and thinking he loves her sibling (Rahi) more than herself. Or Ira asking her husband to shut up in the middle of a serious conversation making Milind Soman so awkward that he ends up giving a random clueless expression. But the worst was product placement. I understand that marathi movies, especially such serious and sensitive types do not mint money. They might not be breaking even either. But putting ads in scenes just puts me off. I feel a bit cheated. I am referring to the scene where Ira stops for shopping keeping her father in the car. For a whole 3-4 seconds there is an advertisement board clearly shown past her window. They took great pains to avoid the चितळे and just showed बंधू मिठाईवाले in a previous scene. So I do not think it was unintentional. Or perhaps Chilate did not give them discount on the bakarwadis so they orchestrated sweet revenge.