January 20, 2021

#Tribhanga - a film review

Renuka Shahane’s directorial film ‘Tribhanga’ is a film that spans across three generations, with a conflicted mother-daughter relationship at its core and an insight into people and their coping mechanisms. 

The story line: 

Nayan Joshi is a talented writer trapped between domestic responsibilities and her true calling. And somewhere down the line has to choose between the two. Being the free spirit that she is, she chooses to go with her dreams, uprooting the lives of her two children, Anu and Ravi, who she takes along with her. 

Anu and Ravi, however, can never forgive her for the consequences of her decisions, for which they believe they had to pay the price.

Until there is a confrontation in the most unfortunate circumstances...

The cast/performance: 

In the movie, there is a dialogue where Anuradha Apte talks about her relationship with the two women in her life, where she describes her mother, daughter, and herself with the help of three poses in traditional dance form —-Abhanga, Samabhanga, and Tribhanga respectively. 

‘Abhang’ (slightly off-centre) — Tanvi Azmi plays the role of a genius writer who, like most geniuses, is not spared of idiosyncrasies. She is cerebral but sometimes fails to see what is in front of her. She hates monotony. Azmi has played her part to perfection with her ageing face revealing just the right amount of regret and pride. 

‘Samabhang’ (well balanced) - played by Mithila Palkar who is Anuradha’s seemingly balanced daughter ‘Masha’. I felt her performance was forced in parts. But that could also be because she hardly had any lines to spout. She could have done better. 

However, the entire responsibility of the film lies on, you guessed it, ‘Tribhanga’ (a standing body position,in which the body is bent at three points, namely the knees, the hips, and the shoulders-neck, each part pointing in different directions) Kajol’s shoulders and she handles it like a boss! She plays a loud, swearing, cussing, perennially annoyed, extremely forthright, and super snarky character, a performance that seems to come to her so easily that we cannot help but love her for it. She is clearly the star of this show. 

The other motley of characters include a loyalist brother who has embraced spirituality, an estranged father with a failing memory, and an accepting lover whose patience is tested at every step.

It is a pleasure to watch Kanwaljeet on screen after all this time. I recall watching his TV series ‘Saans ’ as a child and instantly warming up to his puppy dog eyes and kind expression (that too when he was portraying a philandering spouse). 

This film shows him in a different light though. The brief snatches of onscreen chemistry between him and Azmi are reminiscent of their ‘Family no 1’ days, and I couldn’t help wishing he’d appear in more frames. 

Kunaal Roy Kapur has an onscreen presence that grows on you, and although he has very few lines as well, his expressions and body language say it all. The man definitely has potential. 

The takeaway:

With a touching story line and cast in tow, Tribhanga dives into the nuances of human relationship that until now had barely been explored. We have all witnessed the constrained father-son chemistry of a KKKG (‘Kabhie khushi  kabhie gham’) or YJHD (‘Ye jawaani hai  deewani’) but this is the first when it comes to depicting the convoluted silence of a mother-daughter bond...an underrated bond that is so easily take for granted. 

‘Tribhanga’ also passes on alert intent message on forgiveness. On forgiving ourselves, on forgiving our parents. On accepting that they are just as human as we are. And so just as flawed. 

The mistakes made by Nayan and then by Anu reveal that ‘perfect’ parenting can never exist. No matter how you raise your child, there is always space for complaint. 

Anu’s character, although slightly askew, brings to the fore a shade of feminism that is much needed in India. It displays unabashedly a vibe that is a contradiction, a bold contrast to the dutiful daughter, the subservient wife, the doting mother cutouts that society expects us to fit in all the time. 

It tells us it is okay to speak up, to speak loud, and speak for ourselves, because nobody else is going to do that for us. Giving this so-called ‘idealistic’ society the middle finger salute, this movie challenges us to accept the ‘tedhi, medhi, crazy’ in every woman, in every mother, in every daughter. And the ‘Tribhanga’ that comes along with them.

I rate this movie a 4 out of 5.

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