Tribhanga keeps its steady focus on the 3 generations of women of the Apte family. The eldest Nayantara Apte (Tanvi Azmi) is a celebrated writer. Her daughter Anu Apte (Kajol), a popular Bollywood actress, Odissi dancer and mother to the calm and adjusting Masha (Mithila Palkar). Mother-daughter relationships or films on female bonding aren’t new for us but what makes Tribhanga a refreshing watch is how these women are foregrounded not on the basis of the role assigned to them by society, which is invariable in relation to men – as someone’s wife, sister, or daughter but as individuals in their own right.
We meet the person complete with their idiosyncrasies, biases and prejudices, goals and desires. They are breathing , thinking beings first who might or might not do the right thing. They may flounder and falter but they dance to no one else’s tunes. Written and directed by Renuka Shahane it captures in fine detail the filial bond acknowledging that a mother is human too with her share of frailties. There is no preordained perfection to motherhood, one learns as we goes along.
Tribhanga opens with Anu rushing to the hospital after her mother tragically slips into a coma. She is a concerned daughter no doubt but as details of their tumultuous relationship slowly bleed out we know all isn’t well between the two. As viewers we alternate our sympathies between the two and the film never asks us to take sides. These women neither want the men in their lives to define them nor are looking for validation from us.
Of course there are men in their lives. As a dependable brother, a painful ex, a helpful partner, or a passionate lover but they remain in the background and the ladies set out to capture the fleeting coherence of memories allowing enough time to heal and accept, each other and themselves.
Tanvi and Kajol, the strongest performers have a stunning hold and it’s difficult to focus on anyone else when they are in the frame. It helps that their characters also are more dextrously built. In comparison, Masha‘s track with her unquestioning surrender to her in-laws' wills seems a little hard to comprehend.
But the film redeems itself soon with how smartly it has been sculpted together. The camera doesn’t unnecessarily linger on, the same point isn’t drummed repeatedly and avoids any grandstanding. The self-assured storytelling in Tribhanga by Renuka Shahane that is masterfully woven around wholesome characters gives us much to cheer for.
Rating: 3.5 Quints out of 5
Video Editor: Veeru Krishan Mohan
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