You know the kind of movies that make you nostalgic about your own family gatherings and that memory makes you feel both warm and cold like that old shawl with holes.
Seema Pahwa’s directorial debut is that beautiful sewn piece, thread by thread keeps you attached to the film in every scene. Also, an adaptation of her play Pin Daan.
The lens crackles into an old house, narrow passages and black white pictures hanging on the wall. A neighbor boy playing a piano and a sick old man, Ram Prasad (Naseeruddin Shah) asking him to correct a note which just cant seem to be played right because of the loosening of a string in one of the keys. It’s established how specific he is about every key and ending on the right note. Just then we see his wife Savitri (Supriya Pathak) complaining about this stubbornness of his. It is here that he gets a cardiac arrest and dies on the piano itself. A dramatic thumb of all the notes playing together signal Savitri of his demise.
The dramedy now starts with the gathering of all the six children, their families and extended family congregate by the side of their recently widowed mother Savitri for the thirteen day funeral of the patriarch.
The realism in these scenes makes you nostalgic of any funeral you’ve ever attended. The relatability of it is the universal truth of all and yet so personal. The small anecdotes are the details that one cannot miss out on. How nobody can ever be absorbed in grief when there is a world full of duties waiting on the doorstep.
Everyone has their own set of advice to shower on the big and small. The story mainly revolves around the four brothers in the first half where they unravel the lost sweetness of their bonds while on the way to finish the last riots of their father. The nostalgic road trip makes them sing and dance like kids again. The acceptance of grief has passed away making us question how much is too much grief? When someone of importance has passed away.
While on the other hand, Sudip Sengupta’s camera makes us all one of their relatives as we eavesdrop conversations and incidents. It is almost easy to forget a death has even taken place in the house. There is a usual chaos in problems of a daily middle class family. Fighting over bathroom turns, children rumbling up and down with their own mischief. The women in the house gossiping from behind tea glasses.
An old man and an old woman bantering on something irrational. The same question “how it happened?” and the grieving wife keeps repeating the same sequence of events in calibrated tones of shock now becomes more of a joke than an incident to the children.
The plot starts to thicken in the second half where deeper themes of infatuation, family politics, despair, love and gratitude start developing. One of the best thing’s about Pahwa’s movie is that each character has been painted with significance in their own light and is as flawed and grey as you an I.
The dreamy togetherness of the whole family instead of making Savitri happy and consoled make her feel even more alone. Seeing the strange celebratory mood of her kids saddens her and makes her question, How blinded and unaware can one be in the influence of money?
How even small things start itching amongst the siblings and even at the time of this demise they would rather curse their parents and question the burden their mother is going to be and to whom rather than grieving . Be it babuji’s sweater or shop, one wants it all and then nothing at the same time.
Each of the wives have their own type, one in each family. With their complexities and nosy behaviour they definitely will remind you of someone. The deep pressed sadness and biases start coming to light. Again and again we see Vinay Pathak as the second youngest son asking people to let it out before it starts growing and suffocating within them hoping just one of his brothers would understand how suffocated he is.
Parambrata Chatterjee who is both Nishant (youngest son) and also the young Ram Prasad holds a quiet monologue of his own. Konkana Sen as Seema is raw and an unpolished character of the indian society who leaves nothing unsaid.
Vikrant Massey (Rahul) is attracted to his Chachi and steals a moment with her while she is drunk and asleep to which he later misunderstands to be love and is ridiculed by the same by Seema. The character of Rahul is that of a typical teenager who is attracted to qualities of a woman and plays around breaking hearts of girls.
With a loan of ten lakhs taken by the father burdened upon the kids and the question as to who the mother will now stay with the suspense is built up.
The end though is the highlight of the film that hits with the realization of how forgetful we are towards thanking our loved ones and how important it is to say “thank you” cause sometimes its not their duty but just love that makes them sacrifice. The piano as a metaphor to life and the electricity wires as that to relationships play an important role. The movie goes from ‘sabhi taare uljhi hui hai’ to “apni dhun banane ke liye apne taar pehchano”.
Music by Sagar Desai is your besan ka ladoo on a sad day. Bulawa Aya Re and Ek Adhoora Kaam are tracks that push into a lawn of childhood on the broken swings. A tehrvi you’ve already been to and one tehrvi that you’d willingly love and enjoy being at.
The ensemble cast of Director Seema Pahwa’s Ram Prasad Ki Tehrvi features actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Supriya Pathak, Konkona Sen Sharma, Vinay Pathak, Manoj Pahwa, Parambrata Chatterjee and Vikrant Massey among others.
Watch Ram Prasad Ki Tehrvi on Netflix.