Sometimes I feel that our filmmakers don’t really understand the medium of cinema. Or they don’t really care about its finer nuances. I think it is high time that we as an audience don’t lap up films that are hastily made and don’t show any apparent effort in using the tools of cinema to get their point across. And, such total absence of any craft in the filmmaking, which is very common amongst contemporary marathi films, becomes even more frustrating when the film does have some substance.
Pitruroon, the directorial debut of Nitish Bharadwaj of Mahabharat fame, is a perfect example of the kind of filmmaking I have been lamenting about. Based on a novel by Sudha Murthy, the film throws at you such clichéd and drab scenes one after the other that you are left squirming in your seat. The short duration is probably the best part about the film. The opening shot has Vyankatesh Kulkarni(Sachin Khedekar) performing ‘shraadh’ ritual of his deceased father. As is the ritual, the soul of the deceased will only gain ‘moksha’ if the crow eats something out of the ‘pind’. As soon as Vyankatesh, an archeologist by profession, promises to fulfill his father’s unfulfilled wish a crow does finally eat the food offered in the pind. Now, such similarity the opening sequence has with a scene in Kaksparsh, that I won’t blame you if you feel that the theatre has started playing Kaksparsh instead of Pitruroon. But soon we realise that the plot of this film shares very little with the very popular film of last year. Vyankatesh has a chance encounter with a look-alike, who also shares the same name, during a trip to a historical site. Vyankatesh senses some uncanny connection with the village simpleton and further enquiry leads to events which unravel certain mysteries in Vyankatesh’s deceased father’s life which help Vyankatesh fulfill his father’s last wish.
Now, on the outset, it feels as if the story has enough to keep you interested. But trust marathi directors to turn a potentially engaging plot into a typical uninteresting drama. Nitish Bharadwaj turns Pitruroon into a dialogue-over-all film which pays no heed to the visual or rather any aspect of cinema. And the dialogues too are mostly insipid and unimaginative. The actor who plays the young Bhagirathi is so out of sync with her character that her performance makes you disconnect with the film and you start doubting whether there was even a director present on the sets during her scenes. Sachin Khedekar does justice to whatever little was available on his plate. Tanuja playing the character of the old Bhagirathi feels a little awkward in the beginning but does manage to impress in the last few scenes. I really wonder why the character of Vyankatesh’s daughter was even included in the film. Not only is it forcefully fitted in but the weak acting and the wannabe photographer shade of the character irritates you. The songs made me wish that I had a remote with which I could fast-forward through them. The background score is cringe worthy to say the least.
Though the climax can be predicted from a distance, one was hoping that at least the journey till there would be worth the time and money invested. But, sadly, that was not to be the case. Nitish Bharadwaj’s direction makes you feel like you are watching an ordinary daily soap and not a film.