Saturday, January 7, 2017


Release date:
January 7, 2017
Satish Rajwade

Ankush Chaudhari, Tejashree Pradhan, Abhinay Berde, Aarya Ambekar, Hruditya Rajwade, Nirmohi Agnihotri, Urmila Kanitkar

The first Marathi film release of the year is a story of words left unspoken and thoughts left unexpressed, of relationships that do not find closure haunting us all our lives, of first love and intense friendship and everything in between.

Ti Saddhya Kay Karte (What Is She Up To These Days) is about Anurag and Tanvi who were close friends for years before his awkwardness and confusion as a teenager tore them apart. The two central characters are played by three artistes each, representing three different stages of their lives: childhood, the final years of school and middle age. It is narrated in the present by Anurag a.k.a. Anya as he looks back at the mistakes that effectively ended one of the most important relationships of his life, and the second chance he gets to repair the hurt he caused.

One of the plus points of Satish Rajwade’s film is that though it is designed as a commercial venture, complete with song and dance, it does not get loud at any point. The mellow narrative introduces us to little Anurag and Tanvi, acquaints us with their blossoming bond, and trots along quietly towards the boy’s juvenile understanding of romance and their realisation – not clearly articulated – that they may share something beyond friendship.

Like so many of us do in our later years, Anurag at that early stage begins to take Tanvi for granted. As the older Anurag reminisces about those days, he is confused about the feelings that linger from back then. To reveal more would be to give away too much. Let’s just say that for the most part the film steers clear of stereotypical notions of friendship and love.

For the most part. There are moments when the writing strays, such as when a teenaged Anurag begins romancing other girls and realises that glamorous Mohini is actually not interested in him. The older Anurag in the narration dispenses a cliché at that point. In every group there is a girl who every boy believes is in love with him; such a girl is pretty, friendly and unattainable, he explains. In other words, says Anurag, she is “beyond budget”. Although this is not the same as the “women are teases” stereotype, it is close enough to pander to members of the male-dominated audience who believe women tend to lead men on. No doubt there are those in real life who hold such views – point is that, first, no counterpoint is provided to that dialogue in the film; and second, it comes from the older and supposedly more mature Anurag, not the kid.

This is, arguably, the only bow to populism in the film.

Ti Saddhya departs from its common-sense tone later when a female character explains that she married her husband, among other reasons, because “after all, he was the first to ask”. It is hard to tell whether she genuinely meant this or said it only to convey to the listener the extent of the pain he had caused her. If she meant it, then it does not fit the kind of person she is shown to be until then and thereafter”: level-headed, emotional and yet not needy.

Still, there is plenty in this film to make it worth a watch. It is not earth-shatteringly original in its depiction of childhood crushes and teen romances (in fact the entire track involving Anurag and Mohini is such a been-there-seen-that episode), but the depiction of the adult Anurag and Tanvi – their internal conflicts, his remorse, her regrets, the remnants of an old wound, their individual sense of guilt towards their present partners despite not having betrayed them – is sensible and refreshingly different from the standard depiction of relationships in Indian cinema.

It helps that the gentle pace and rhythm of the narrative are engaging. Rajwade’s low-key storytelling coupled with the placid soundtrack are well-suited to the subject matter at hand. I especially enjoyed the melody and the singing of Hrudayat waje something composed by Avinash-Vishwajeet, which recurs through Ti Saddhya.

The tone of the film is established in no small measure by actor Ankush Chaudhari’s appealing voice as narrator. The adult Anurag could have been reduced to a caricature in some scenes, but Chaudhari holds back just enough to get it right. He finds a good match in debutant Abhinay Berde (son of actress Priya Berde and the late Laxmikant Berde) who plays his teen version.

The pick of the ensemble cast though is the very attractive Tejashree Pradhan who lightly tugs at our heartstrings with her restrained performance as the older Tanvi. The little ones have limited screen time, but Aarya Ambekar as the teen Tanvi is occasionally stilted, though never more so than in the song Jara jara. (For the record, the choreography and shooting of that song, with the cast posing about in an old fort and on a beach, are among the unoriginal aspects of this film.)

I am willing to live with the fact that Ambekar and Berde look nothing like Pradhan and Chaudhari, but not with the ageing makeup given to the actors playing the lead pair’s parents – it is surprisingly inadequate for a film that is otherwise technically polished.

A large part of Ti Saddhya’s appeal lies in its narrative structure, with the incessant inter-cuts between the present and the couple’s school years revealing bit by bit what brought Anurag and Tanvi to where they are at today. This could have been a huge distraction, but in the hands of editor Rahul Bhatankar is smoothly executed and effective as a result.

In recent years, film buffs outside Maharashtra have come to associate the Marathi industry with pathbreaking cinema: from Umesh Kulkarni’s works to Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court (2015) or 2016’s Sairat. Ti Saddhya Kay Kartey is not on that plane at all. It is not spectacular. This coming-of-age-late-in-life film is a simpler pleasure, nostalgic and sweet.

Non-Marathi audiences, please note: The production company, Zee Studios, confirms that Ti Saddhya Kay Karte has been released everywhere with English subtitles. I do not know what prompted the decision not to subtitle the songs or scenes in which characters are reading (or reading out) SMSes, but for the rest, the subs are efficient.

Rating (out of five): **1/2

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
127 minutes

This review has also been published on Firstpost:

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