Monday, September 23, 2013

"Anumati": The Permission

I stumbled upon a Marathi film "Anumati" (2013) on the telly the other day. I liked what I saw. 

Ratnakar (Vikram Gokhale) is a retired school teacher, a romantic at heart; a poet. His wife Madhu (Neena Kulkarni) is the force that has been steering their family, leaving Ratnakar to dream, read and write. Both their children--a son and a daughter--are married, and busy with their own families. The elderly couple live in a small house in picturesque Shrivardhan, a town by the beach along the Konkan coast.

We come to know all this in bits and pieces, through flashbacks. The film opens when the comatose Madhu is lying in a Mumbai hospital, her distraught husband by her side. She has suffered a brain haemorrhage, and is being kept on life support systems. Each additional day at the hospital costs money and they have already exhausted their modest savings in the last few days. The doctors are fuelling the family's hopes in their characteristic measured words.

Ratnakar is hopeful, his son is not. He is under pressure from his son to sign the "Do not resuscitate" form, but he cannot bring himself to authorize an act that might end Madhu's life. He turns to his daughter and his brother for help. He is ready to sell his house in Shrivardhan. He just wants the hospital to try for a few more days, hoping that Madhu would recover.The story underlines the ugly commercial aspect of hospitals today: exploiting people emotionally in order to run their business.

Vikram Gokhale is a veteran who delivers a powerful performance, expressing the pain, desperation and helplessness of Ratnakar with finesse. His small interactions with his daughter, daughter-in-law, brother and son are enough to tell us what kind of relationships they share with each other. And though the story is centred around a patient on a hospital bed, we are not confined to that small room. Ratnakar's efforts to raise money take us to different places, allowing us snippets from the lives of his extended family; and treating us to some wonderful shots of Konkan in the rain. The cinematographer is Govind Nihalani!

Ratnakar's childhood friend Ambu (Reema) brings a lot of energy with her entry into the story. Her scenes with Ratnakar are warm, positive and definitely feel-good.

It is a sensitive subject, handled extremely well by director Gajendra Ahire. He has written the screenplay, dialogue and composed music too. Kishore Kadam, Subodh Bhave, Sai Tamhankar and Neha Pendse are all very good in their supporting roles. It is a touching story of love, told very simply. No wonder then that it has won wide critical acclaim, and that Vikram Gokhale has bagged the National Film Award for Best Actor.

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