Directed by Raam Reddy
For many, the cinema from India is automatically associated with the local film industry, known as Bollywood, the main source of numerous tear-jerking dramas and cheesy romances. However, this is an unfair assumption since a few high-quality movies have been released throughout the years.
The sweet-tempered “The Lunchbox” and the incisive “Court” are two examples of success, to which is now joined the brand new “Thithi”, a sagacious drama of jocular tones directed and co-written by the 26-year-old newcomer, Raam Reddy.
Mr. Reddy, despite so young, already shows a beneficial maturity that made him boldly embrace a great story focused on three generations of sons that dwell in a small village located in the South of India. By working with a non-professional cast he confers a luscious rawness to a sort of pastoral tale where the modern (cell phones, motorcycle) counterpoints with the ancient (traditions, the pasture) in a peculiar way.
The film opens with the death of an ancient, Century Gowda, at the age of 101. Before falling lifeless, we observe this elder scolding every single person who passes by the tortuous dusty roads. He apparently does this with no reason at all, adopting a scornful posture. His death draws distinct reactions from the members of his family who, without wasting time, start the preparations for the typical funerary ritual known as ‘Thithi’.
Our eyes are then turned to Century Gowda’s son, Gadappa (the Beard-Man), who doesn’t have any other occupation beyond wandering throughout the village while smoking second-rate cigarettes and drinking strong liquor. Detached from everyone, he shows an intriguing indifference toward his father’s death.
In turn, Gadappa’s son, Thamanna, who plays the villain, manifests a contemptuous greediness when planning to sell his grandfather’s land and keep the money to himself. Obviously, an illegal action since his father is still alive. Notwithstanding, the impulsive Thamanna already has a dirty scheme in mind: sending his dad on a bus trip so he can forge his certificate of death. The problem is that Gadappa doesn’t go far, hanging out with a family of shepherds from a neighboring village.
Progressing at a cadenced pace, we stand before a sympathetic comedy-drama that holds our attention from the very first minute. In a playful way, it kind of summarizes the good and the bad of the world, the choices each one of us is confronted with at some point, and also the natural course of life.
Mr. Reddy, resorting to the use of formulas that are as much elementary as efficient, and exploring the natural qualities of the cast, creates an ode to the life itself.
His breezy direction helps to convey the message in an easygoing way, turning “Thithi” in an endearing experience. To be discovered!