The biggest quality of director Renuka Shahane’s film is that despite a topic done to death, the film remains fresh and novel
Why do we wait for someone to go to or battle with life and death to realize their true importance and worth? The film asks this. Why can’t we have a dialogue? Why can’t we sort the differences? Why is it so difficult? Tribhanga is a tale of mature human relationships, told by means of women from three generations who share a common ground- belonging. First things given, this is NOT a film for masses.
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When her estranged mother falls into a coma, a self made single mother grapples with regret, guilt and resentment while reflecting on their strained relationship.
Written by Shahane, the story is simple. In fact just as the plot, you can simplify the details in one line. May be, someone reading the plot would not get interested to watch this one. But it would be a mistake. The film wins by its execution. In fact, more so with the situations crafted here to convey the essence.
The narrative, emphasising on the use of a story within a story, may seem forced for you. You may not be ready to buy the idea of a mother speaking to someone’s camera about her life, and be preachy to you. However, this very take becomes the soul of the film. Something inseparable. You begin to think like the characters and channelize yourself into believing that that’s the only way of narration. That’s how Shahane does good for the film.
There is a mother who has Arthritis. There is a daughter, a famous actress who has locked horns with her mother to an extent that she doesn’t even talk to her anymore. And there is the granddaughter, the balance between them. There is also a writer invested in the mother’s story, so much so that he becomes a catalyst in uniting the family. There’s a spiritual brother, who speaks right. Always.
The film talks of emotions. It talks of maturity. It talks of philosophy. It talks of life and death. It talks of complexities in relationships. It talks of absurdities of life. It talks of how extreme can human bonds get. The notions of women liberation and more so, their choices are brought to light in the most appropriate manner. Not once do you feel that you are watching something forcefully. The narrative is effortless. The angst of a daughter for her mother for certain reason is justified. And why there is no angst for her daughter herself when he has a good enough reason? The realisations form the crux of the drama.
What doesn’t work in the favor of the film is that it is highly predictable right from the first scene. Even when the lead character is hit by a major realisation, you have predicted even that long before the juncture comes. The direction is strong, giving you deep nuances of how difficult women’s lives are- and that kind of balances the shortcomings of the predictability factor. You are also at times let down by the slow treatment of the film. But yes, that’s crucial to the structure here. Can’t help it. One thing that will put you off big time- Kajol’s character mouthing cuss words even when there wasn’t the need for that. Forced abuses hurled take away the charm and that’s exactly what’s happened here.
The messages are important. Relevant. And noteworthy. They do get preachy at times. But mostly, the meanings do get across.
Kajol in her first couple sequences seems over dramatic. She seems to control it later. For the rest of the part, she is very good. Delivers nicely.
Tanvi Azmi, even when she is giving an interview, manages to move you through her expressions and hand gestures. She is delightful to watch.
Mithila Palkar gives a very fine act, something that you haven’t seen from her before. It’s not a difficult role, but an important and meaty one. She gets ample scope to perform and she doesn’t let it go in vain.
Kunal Roy Kapoor is brilliant to watch in an avatar that is very different from all what he’s done so far. Very very good.
Manav Gohil is good as an able support. Vaibhav Tatwawaadi is also very very impressive with his role. He’s caught the body language perfectly and gives you a good time admiring him.
Kanwaljit Singh in a small role is good.
Background score by Sanjoy Chowdhury is well intentioned and correctly placed as per the need of the film. The music is minimalistic in approach, but makes you root for the feeling of the film. Very very good.
Cinematography by Baba Azmi is visually engaging. There are not many locations, but the spaces are all captured symbolically as per the writing tone of the film. Production design by Madhusudan N is also memorable where colors, sets, and elements within the frame depict the realism to the core.
Editing by Jabeen Merchant has been done in an engaging way. This is a film that doesn’t have dramatic turns and twists. It also doesn’t have pace to its advantage. Still the viewers of this genre would vouch that the flow of scenes is beautiful.
A good film. Mature film. Patient film. Talking of important things, this is a must watch for all those who like quality cinema. Renuka Shahane, a job well done.