‘Thithi’ is the kind of film I love for the memories it evokes. I am reminded of the short story, A Horse and Two Goats by R K Narayan. No one captures the irony of a human life in a rural setting like R K Narayan does. I am also reminded of the Apu trilogy by Satyajit Ray. What if the two men were alive today and set out to make a film but wanted to have fun along the way by experimenting with the rawness an Indian rural life evokes to colour its contours.
That is precisely what Director Raam Reddy and Writer Eregowda have done with Thithi. It is no way an exaggeration. We have seen wonderful movies set in rural heartlands in the past. But what truly sets Thithi from the rest is the casting and the place. Nearly all the actors in the movie are from the village with no prior acting experience and the story was developed keeping the ethos of the village in mind, improved upon by the passage of time. The final film that we got to see is what got developed in the editor room. As Indian cinema turns more urban-centred, to create a film in the village suiting to its character, then attempt to capture the nativity of the village and keep its rawness intact is an achievement.
The story is about how three generations of men in a family react to the death of the cantankerous ‘Century Gowda’, the 101-year-old family patriarch. There is this good-hearted but uncouth ‘Gadappa’, son of Century Gowda, who is detached from the world and doesn’t want to remain at a place. There is a reason behind it which is narrated by him to a group of sheepherders later in the story. Thammanna, the grandson, is materialistic and is interested only in the agricultural farmlands inherited by his father from Century Gowda. He wants to clear his debts by selling them but is unable to make his father transfer the same to his name. Abhi, the great-grandson, is tasting the colorful days of his youth in his unashamedly relentless pursuit of a shepherd girl. Instead of being preachy and philosophical. The three stories converge on the 11th day of Century Gowda’s funeral, Thithi.
Raam Reddy lets the characters speak for themselves lending more credence to the narrative. The sounds of the village come alive. It is so good to see a movie without background score and instead make the audience appreciate the aural texture of Nodekkapalu village in Mandya district. Even the cacophonous bleating of goats and the village band sound music to the ears.
Easily one of the finest Indian movies I have seen. No wonder why #AnuragKashyap rated it as one of the three recent Indian movies that he wished had directed along with Vetrimaaran‘s Visaaranai and Nagraj Manjule‘s Sairat. Kudos to the writer Eregowda for weaving a narrative out of his village and to the Director Raam Reddy for giving it a celluloid form. Cinematography by Doron Tempert, Sound Designing by Nithin Lucus and Editing by John Zimmerman deserve full credit for their efforts.
Thithi ~ the heartbeats of Rural India!