Naticharami (Kannada / 2018 / Drama / 113 mins)
It has become rare a film with a sense of strong content to hit the screen. With the aim for blockbusters, the habit of having something substantial in the narrative has suffered. Its proved again and again that business does not seem to be favoring the lesser clout of filmmakers who come out with good content. But times are changing and it may not be wrong to assume we are at the right juncture. There is quite an interesting list of films with sensibilities in the content lined up and Naticharami is probably the first among the list.
Naticharami (“A promise to standby”) deals with the inner conflict of a young woman. On one side she is trying to come to terms with her husband’s accidental death and on the other, the challenges for the life ahead with one of the main being the physical needs (sexual desires). It isn’t easy enough to tackle such a sensitive topic in a convincing and mature way. The film tries to stitch in a narrative covering these aspects. Not sure how topics such as sex are discussed among the present generation as the exposure and access that they have are just too much. But for the generation that I belong to or our predecessors, this was always a taboo. It is a natural act, but still is hidden and not talked about. We have enough texts on this in literature but when it comes to Indian cinema there is very less number of films that touch on this. Mansore and Sandhya Rani deserve to be applauded to bring in this as a feature. It is never easy to get someone to play such character roles and Shruthi deserves appreciation and recognition for performing this with the right attitude.
The tone on what you can expect is set right from the opening credits. The film moves at a brisk pace and the timeline of over close to but still less than a couple of hours fits in perfectly. The narrative is simple, there isn’t much storytelling that happens, its a mixture of emotions, frustrations, and reactions.
The film is not just about this one character who is trying to resolve her question of needs. There are others as well who are in crisis, a frustrated husband who dreams of owning a business but fails, a neglected wife whose every effort to please her husband goes futile and a maidservant who has seen the best and worst of both the worlds the negligence and the acceptance. All these characters get entangled in a manner unknown to them. The film heavily relies on interpersonal relationships to a larger extent. The curiosity of using a dating application, the nervousness of dating and the moment of awkwardness when you meet the stranger on the date at times flow in smooth and at times feels pretentious. The film handles a complex topic but gives a feeling that it is been touched only superficially. Probably it looks good as literature but when it comes to visual translation the necessary depth, the longing somehow seems to be amiss giving a feeling that there could have been more to it. The climax perhaps is one of the best resolved. There is a sense of takeaway when the end credits roll. As this is experimental it is quite interesting to know how the audience reacts and responds. Am pretty sure the work will be applauded.
The film highly relies on performances. The casting is perfect. Shruthi has performed well in most of the sequences but in quite some scenes it looked quite mechanical. Sanchari Vijay does fine but the role deserved much better from him. He is capable of giving in more but does not look like that the level matched. Balaji Manohar shines in his role of Dr. Carvaloh (Wondering if it was just to bring in a character from Thejaswis work), he has the best screen presence, not just because of his personality but the way he uses and involves the frame through his actions or dialogue delivery makes it very special. Sharanya is terrific in her role, every scene she is featured she has put in such a remarkable performance. Shwetha as the maid servant is yet another Gopalkrishna Deshpande is a fine actor but in this film, he seems to be underutilized given a very weak insignificant role.
The film has a great background score by Bindu Malini. The songs are already being liked. Cinematography by Guruprasad and Art by Santosh is very apt for this kind of a film, One other highlight, costumes by Manasa gives in that special authentic feel and style. Mahavir Sabbanavar has done the sound capture and sound design. He proves yet again that he is one among the finest sound guys that we have. Dialogues at times sound to be too preachy. It looks more of something feels good when we read but someone saying that as a dialog in the film looks absurd. More simple the conversation is, more realistic and natural it feels.
Sandhya Rani and Mansore have come together with this unique effort. Mansore proves yet again that he is there to cater to people who need films with content and sensitive subjects. Wish he gets more opportunities and makes more films. This film definitely deserves to be watched. It plays with English subtitles.
The film premiered in MAMI in the India story and competed in the Oxfam Gender Equality section.
While you make sure you watch Naticharami here are other films which are content-based and have a strong woman-centric subject and are slated for release. Utsav Prakash’s “Secrets”, Arvind Kamath’s “Arishadvarga” and Ere Gowda’s “Bale Kempa”. All these films touch on interpersonal relationships but in a different way.
Its certified A. Please do not take your children.
BY HARISH MALLY