Review: ‘Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi’ Is a Moving Tale of Life & Loss
The film is directed by Seema Pahwa.
Stellar Cast & a Moving Story Makes ‘Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi’ a Delightful Watch
Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi opens with the camera thoughtfully guiding us into an old desolate house. Dimly lit, the piano notes beckon us into a room sparsely furnished, with a little boy practicing his music and an old man correcting his 'sur'. The 'death' of Ramprasad (Naseeruddin Shah) takes place soon after. His love and commitment for music is all that we know about him till the congregation of family (extended and immediate), neighbours and friends, who descend to his ancestral home. Through little anecdotes and memories is constructed an image of the man we hardly meet, but whose looming presence throughout the narrative is hard to ignore. The house, ironically, comes alive after the death of the family patriarch.
Written and directed by Seema Pahwa, who over the years has charmed us with her authentic performances, Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi makes for a beautiful debut. The story might be about death but the film is a meditative portrayal about life that goes on. Despite the assurance that everyone moves on, yet it comes with an impending sense of betrayal to the memory of the departed soul. What constitutes mourning?, asks Ramprasad's wife (played by Supriya Pathak Shah). Are lighting a diya and offering flowers enough? How does one stipulate how much time must be set aside to remember those who have left us? These are profound philosophic meditations, but because death and all that it entails is treated with clinical precision it never becomes too morbid or heavy.
In fact, Pahwa’s strength lies in the light touch she brings in her storytelling, never once compromising on the quiet dignity that is at the core of the film.
When Amma (Supriya Pathak) recounts the events of the fateful night when her husband dropped dead on the piano it’s heartbreaking. But when the same story is repeated verbatim for the benefit of those who come in to pay their last respects and can't help but use the crutch of “ye kaise ho gaya?” to initiate a conversation it is difficult to stifle a laugh. The tragi-comedy is heightened in the scene where the men of the family discuss their arrival time to the scene. The point being that the quicker they made it the more mournful they would seem!
The lived-in house and milieu adds to the appeal. The tranquil frames of the bereaved wife reminiscing about her husband, juxtaposed with the hustle that everyone seems to be in to get done with the tehrvi and get on with life is the central focus. The customs and rituals keep everyone busy. Thirteen days are set aside for mourning and unresolved matters and resentments threaten to tumble out. It’s not just the death but the subsequent events that busies the occupants of the house. "Amma kahan rahengi? Razai gadde? Khana kya banega?" Even the long cue outside the only washroom that the house has warrants our attention. The mundane and prosaic take over. But for the living these are important. And yet, as the moist-eyed Supriya Pathak sits next to the framed picture of her husband the feeling of loss tugs at our heartstrings.
It’s a stellar cast that Seema Pahwa has put together and they do full justice to the roles just as the script grants everyone their due.
Manoj Pahwa, Vinay Pathak, Ninad Kamath, Parambrata Chatterjee, Deepika Amin, Divya Jagdale, Sadiya Siddiqui and Konkona Sensharma- every actor performs his/her part flawlessly. The verisimilitude is evident in the organic performances of the extended cast be it Mamaji aka Vineet Kumar or Jijaji (Brijendra Kala). The sisters are brilliantly played by Anubha Fatehpuri and Sarika Singh, and Vikrant Massey aces the impulsive nephew.
The men and their drunken revelry on the terrace, the women and their gossip keeping the fire and more burning in the kitchen, the kids and their shenanigans outside - this busy family portrait so ably put together by Seema Pahwa has its moments when it meanders, or to borrow Ramprasad's phrase - seems a little out of “sur”- but it gets its beats right soon, evoking authentic emotions with their concurrent impact. This film talks not just about death but is also a celebration of life and its resilience, where the end is only the beginning of something new and beautiful. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi has opted for a theatrical release and definitely is worth the effort.
Our rating: 3.5 Quints out of 5
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