Director Umesh Bist gives a film that is so simplistic yet impressively beautiful in its approach
Films made on womanhood or exploring women’s choices and freedom are many. Rarely do you get a film that’s rooted right in the sensibilities. Jab Ladki Log Ko Akal Aa Jaati Hai Na, Duniya unhe Pagglait Kehti Hai- there’s this dialogue in the film, appearing at a point when it actually sums the film up. Because this means breaking barriers, this means shedding inhibitions, this means living life the way you want. The film is an indirect lesson to all the women who just don’t dare to listen to themselves.
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Widowed soon after marriage, Sandhya (Sanya Malhotra) grapples with an inability to grieve, quirky relatives, and a startling discovery about her late husband.
Written by Bist himself, the film must be lauded for its concept hands down. It’s a very risky terrain where the moment you are about to make a statement, you may get preachy- an absolute ‘no’ for such genre. Thankfully, Bist’s film makes so many statements, hits your patriarchy or the social fabric and the so-called family values, but all so subtly yet effectively that it’s a remark of flair.
The film, by means of a grieving scenario brings in relatives, lot of them- all characters, cinematically speaking and then and there takes a high jump. The film is made of its characters. Even the ones appearing for only a couple of scenes make an impact and render the much needed gravitas to the narrative. The scenes are full of life- even the ones which are overflowing with grief. The grief is in optimum amounts and so is the ingrained humour within the pathos. All of this makes the drama unique yet believable.
The film talks about relationships and exploring oneself. The concept of gray between the worldly terms of black and white is also explored and you get to see so much that you don’t realise the meaning of, till you see it here. The greed for money, the pretentious definition of ‘love’ and ‘belonging’ and what’s forbidden for a widow and what’s not are also put forth. The film challenges the orthodox ideologies of the society, but never does it attempt to go against anyone’s belief. Clearly, it’s a version of the maker that makes sense.
With near perfect visual quality, the film attracts you through intelligent dialogues and more so, with the fact of how sincerely are the characters crafted. By the end of the film, you are left refreshed by the utter simple messaging of the film with no harping on the over indulgence of feminism. Infact, you replace the woman from the story with a man and you will still have the film talking to you with logic. What the makers actually try to convey is not valid for only females.
Not all will like this one though. The film is made for a specific group of people, the niche ones. You’ve got to be mature in life, mature enough to understand relationships to be able to get this film.
Look at Sanya Malhotra’s filmography. She seems to be striking gold with every venture of hers. Who will say that this is the same woman from Dangal or Badhaai Ho or Pataakha? A role that seems easy to play, is actually not. Malhotra aces this one keeping her expressions on point in whatever the scenes demanded.
Shruti Sharma as a supporting actor lends weight to the character. Her mere presence lends support to the character, hence the film. She is very good. Sayani Gupta has a smaller role, but she gives fitting justice to her role. Much before she comes on screen, her picture does and since you have seen her before otherwise, you know you have substance in store. She doesn’t disappoint.
Ashutosh Rana has given an exemplary act in this one. You watch him in this one keenly, and his eyes are always wet. He doesn’t have many dialogues in the film, but whatever that he has, he delivers them with such ease that you feel he is struggling with grief for real. Superlative performance by him. Sheeba Chaddha also comes out shining. When you have her, you expect nothing less than magic and she delivers.
Raghubir Yadav is brilliant. He has been given a character who’s grumpy and he absorbs the role fully. You like him so much that you wished there was more of him. Aasif Khan as Parchun has his moments and he makes the plot more meaningful. Chetan Sharma as Alok is also very good.
Late Bhupesh Pandya as Sandhya’s father doesn’t speak much in the film, but conveys so much with his body language and expressions. Natasha Rastogi as Sandhya’s mother is fantastic to watch. Funny, practical, typical. It’s a delight to see her on screen.
Jameel Khan brings in the hyper modernity angle to the table and you would say seeing him- ahh, i have an uncle who’s like him. Meghna Malik has little to do, but she does well. Rajesh Tailang has a nicely crafted sketch and he also has his defining moments as an actor.
Arijit Singh has turned composer with this film. And what incredible music he has composed! Although the songs may not seem memorable at first, they grow on you slowly. For the film, they are a perfect match. The tunes are wonderful. Also, the score is very thoughtful. Minimalistic in approach letting the sound design take over. But some tunes as the score definitely do magic.
Cinematography by Rafey Mahmood is extremely appealing. The frames, shots and angles are just magnificent. Right from the opening credits till the last scene, the spaces and locations are all so nicely crafted that you get to see something new in every shot. Production design by Mayur Sharma deserves special mention. The usage of particular colours and shades gives the film symbolic meaning and makes even the dull spaces stand out.
Editing by Prerna Saigal is primarily why this film is what it is. How she has used L and J Cuts for specific purposes to create an effect is noteworthy. How cross cutting establishes a deeper meaning than what meets the eye is why the film has achieved a certain flavour. It looks a very straight forward and simple film. But the editing must have been difficult with so many tracks and characters with so much to show.
It’s a very good watch, especially for those who like good cinema. No preaching. Simple, sweet. Effective. This is a must watch for all those who want to LIVE.