“Oh grandma, what big eyes you got.”
“Better to see you with, my dear.”
Somehow this particular dialogue came about, while watching Nitish Bharadwaj’s debut film Pitruroon. Funny lines they may be, the intention is very serious indeed. While watching, one felt that the use of eyes to say something or convey your emotions and feelings somehow has been found in this film, in abundance. Based on Sudha Murthy’s short story, this film somehow reclaims your belief that sensitive approach towards a topic and understanding of what the public wants can be found, especially while making a Marathi film. Bharadwaj can be applauded for picking an unusual topic for his directorial launch – human emotions, unfulfilled desires which stay even after dead and the human bond which sees the need for closure and doing what is right.
The tale begins with Venkatesh Kulkarni or Venky (Sachin Khedekar) completing his recently deceased father’s last rites which involves leaving an offering for the crow. The crow pecks at the offering after Venky promises to fulfill the wishes. On a trip to Tapola for some work, Venky and his daughter Devyani (Pooja Bhave) discover another Venkatesh Kulkarni (Khedekar), who shares the same face, name and a family background. This rural Venkatesh is also called Sangeet Appa, for has a golden voice. At Appa’s house, Venky meets Appa’s mother Bhagirathi (Tanuja) who finds an unusual connection with Venky and tells him her tale of love and desertion. All through, Venky is struck with just one thought – Does he share more than just a face with Sangeet Appa?
While travelling with the two Venkateshs and this intriguing question of their fate, you are stuck with the story’s simple yet profound statement. The simplicity comes from the realisation that sometimes you have to make choices based on what you feel, see and is emotionally correct. When Venkatesh goes to do the rights for his father, the revelations are disturbing and not exactly favourable for his father. But he does what he has to, as he sees someone’s life and respect is depending on doing it. In this process, he also has to cross the path of hi mother. On the other hand, it lets you know that life, its questions, issues and results are not exactly black and white. Human bonds, love, and desires all make life complex. Murthy’s story and Bharadwaj’s screenplay touch these issues in a rather subtle fashion. The credit goes to Bharadwaj who with Pravin Tarde brings a story which speaks volumes on complex human emotions.
Nitish Bharadwaj was always Lord Krishna for us and now he is also a promising director who can handle sensitive topics. Throughout the film, he has kept a certain suspense which reveals itself slowly as Venky understands his connection with his Sangeet Appa, Bhagirathi and his father’s unfulfilled desires. Some hint of melodrama does creep in especially when Venky has to deal with his hurt mother, but it is quickly suppressed. His vision is ably supported by superb picturisation courtesy Mahesh Aney who captures everything, from the rural set-up to urban living, neatly. The same appreciation should be given to the editing and art department. Kaushal Inamdar’s music has the power to make you skip your heartbeat with delight, with a special mention to Daya ghana Re.
Give Sachin Khedekar any role and he has to live that role. As much as his Venky is intelligent, sensitive and willing to go that extra mile to do what is right, his Sangeet Appa is a simple man who is blessed with a golden voice. Tanuja is the main pillar of the film who shows Bhagirathi’s emotions and pain of being labelled the fallen woman through her eyes. Suhas Joshi shows her calibre in a role which could have gone the staid way. While casting for the younger Bhagirathi’s character and that of her husband Setu, Bharadwaj picks two gem of an actors – Ketaki Palav and Omkar Kulkarni who bring out their romance and sensitivity well. Watch out for Om Bhutkar, whose small role as Bhagirathi’s brother Hanumant, attracts attention courtesy his emotive face. It is a film filled with hardcore actors, though Pooja Bhave could do with loosening up.
Nitish Bharadwaj’s Pitruroon speaks of fulfilling certain wishes and being true to them and your own views. Watch it if you can handle its sensitivity.