Breathing new life through a funeral

Breathing new life through a funeral

Submitted by alvin on Wed, 2016-05-11 12:47 The wait for this film started 3 months back during BIFFES when I couldn't enter the screening hall even after waiting for one hour in that serpentine queue. The film continued its triumphant run by accumulating many national and international awards and I was growing restless. But it has been worth the wait. Tithi deserves every bit of the hype it is getting on the social media. It is an immortal film which revolves around a death. No doubt it is a milestone film in Kannada film industry for many reasons. Mainly because of the way it breaks the pre-conceived notion about award-winning movies. Tithi is neither sombre nor has a serious tone but presents all the nuance of a village life in a light-hearted style. That smile you get when you hear the voice of Century Gowda even before the opening scene continues throughout the film and doesn't end even after you come out of the theater. The music used for the end credits ensures that you carry that smile outside the theater too.  Another reason why this multilayered film stands out is because of the raw and unrestrained portrayal of rural life which we haven't seen much on-screen before. Villages in our films are either overly romanticised or too traumatised. But Tithi proves that the lifeline of these villages lie in their mundane yet interesting events and in the idiocy and idiosyncrasies of its people. Tithi takes neo-realism in films to a new level with real locations, real people, colloquial language and intricate details of village life. It blurs the difference between documentary and feature film without compromising with cinematic quality. The film is so realistic that few fumbles and un-warranted pauses between dialogues also look real and don't hinder the cinematic experience.The real USP of the film though is in its simplicity and character portrayal. Tithi is one of those rare movies in which each and every character appearing on-screen, even when they don’t utter a word, leave an impression on the viewers’ mind. This happens despite the presence of strong lead characters. Starting from the nomadic teenage girl ‘Kaveri’ to henpecked husband ‘Shyanubhog’, all characters in this film have depth and ability to develop into an independent film.When I say it is a path-breaking film in Kannada, there is not a bit of exaggeration. Almost 5 decades back, Samskara pioneered the parallel cinema movement in Kannada. And there were strings of new wave cinema which garnered world recognition. These films were the saving grace of 70s and 80s when the film industry was ruled by potboilers.These art-house movies, which were influenced by neo-realistic world cinema, also borrowed heavily from Indian literature. But now, if we look back, somewhere in the middle the parallel cinema movement also stagnated. The movement became so stereotyped that just by looking at a single shot anyone could classify a film into art house and commercial. This did not help the “art films” in gaining commercial success while restricting them to film fests and awards.  Even though later filmmakers tried to tried to bridge the gap between these two categories, parallel cinema didn't move much from Samskara-style and hardly experimented with new styles of film making.There is a brilliant scene in Tithi where some mutton cuisine is being prepared for the funeral in a large quantity. I could sense the repulsive emotion those shots evoked in a few vegetarian fellow viewers. I suddenly realised how our films including art house cinema have restrained from showing the realistic details of a different culture.Our non-vegetarian cinema experience is usually limited to leg piece eating scene. Even films such as Choman dudi, where the lead character comes from lowest stratum of social ladder, is very much vegan in its approach. The unintentional influence of a dominant culture has reduced the vibrant nature of Indian multi-ethnicity to some superficial artistic scenes in our cinema. Tithi breaks free of this and brings out the real earthly fragrance of a region and culture.It is an interesting fact that both Pattabharam Reddy’s Samskara and Ram Reddy’s Tithi revolve around death and funeral. The former gave a fresh lease of life to Kannada film then and the latter now has set Kannada art-house cinema free from the influence of Samskara.