I managed to watch only a single film today – Astu (So Be It)! It turned out be quite a wonderful film.
(2) Astu by Sumitra Bhave & Sunil Sukathankar (India/Marathi) –
Astu translated to English would mean “So be it”. It turned out to be quite an impressive film like most other films by Sumitra Bhave & Sunil Sukathankar. It narrates story of an old man, Dr. Shastri suffering from Alzheimer. Dr. Shastri is wonderfully acted on screen by Dr. Mohan Agaashe, who happens to be a psychiatrist himself. He is as good as it gets, but that’s what you expect from him anyway in the Marathi films (wonder why he acts in films like Trimurti though!). He also happens to be a co-producer of the film. Among rest of the cast, Iravati Harshe is quite a revelation as an actress. She plays his daughter ‘Ira’ and mother of 2 kids staying with her doctor husband (Milind Soman). It’s heartening to see Sumitra Bhave & Sunil Sukathankar film using another actress besides Daftardar sisters and Iravati Harshe has done full justice to the role. Wonder why she is not used more often as an actress in the Marathi films. She’d certainly bag few awards once the film releases this year.
Milind Soman plays Iravati Harshe’s doctor husband, and he is as mediocre as you’d expect from him as an actor. Wonder why the director duo repeated him in this film after Samhita. Anyway! It doesn’t affect the film much, but a more sensitive and believable actor here would have been a better choice. Nachiket Purnapatre is likeable as a poor elephant man and Amruta Subhash plays his wife. Devika Daftardar makes a small appearance as Iravati’s sister and Mohan Agashe’s second daughter.
The film is well crafted and since it is not yet released, I wouldn’t like to reveal more about it. The entire film unwinds the life of the family so beautifully, and all characters look so real in their own roles that you often feel that you’re witnessing the story of someone in your own family. The director duo captures higher middle class Maharashtrian family values and interactions as perfectly as you could get them. Detailing is just amazing. Without even using those explicit words, the unspoken feelings of the characters are expressed with amazing subtlety & grace. The sensitive portrayal of characters, especially Ira is laudable and credit must go to the director duo as well as Iravati Harshe for carrying it out so beautifully. However, the climax and the end gets little flat like some of their earlier films, but it doesn’t harm much. Though one expects a much better finish to otherwise beautifully crafted narration.
Unlike their previous film – Sanhita (another very good film), this seems to be more commercially viable and I really hope it gets released soon and finds wider audience. Despite making some excellent, award winning films this duo seldom gets mass acceptance and recognition that they truly deserve. I am really looking forward to its release and plan to watch it again on big screen.
Some links –
- Astu‘s Facebook page – It shows lot of praise and awards in other festivals as well. Curious to see what all awards it would bag in this PIFF.
- Another review from IFFK13
And here is the trailer from YouTube –