New Delhi: A first glance at a poster of ‘Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi’ will automatically raise the expectations of any Bollywood movie buff. The best of theatre and Bollywood — Naseeruddin Shah, Supriya Pathak, Konkona Sen Sharma, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Vinay Pathak, Manoj Pahwa, Vineet Kumar, Vikrant Massey, Deepika Amin, Ninad Kamat, and Rajendra Gupta, among others — forms the cast of Seema Pahwa’s directorial debut.
The film has striking similarities with Pagglait, which alsoreleased on the same platform a few weeks ago. However, the treatments of the films are markedly different from each other. Originally premiered at the Mumbai Film Festival in 2019, Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi released theatrically on the New Year in 2021. However, owing to the pandemic, the film has been eventually released on Netflix on April 24.
The story goes like:
Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi, as the name suggests, is a family drama centring on the death of Ramprasad (played by Naseeruddin Shah) and the Hindu traditions that require the family to grieve for 13 days after the funeral.
A musician by passion and shop-owner by profession, Ramprasad succumbs to a cardiac arrest while playing his piano. His wife, played by Supriya Pathak, calls their children to their Lucknow house to conduct the funeral. For the following 13 days, the entire family of four brothers, two sisters, and their spouses and children, along with some relatives, get together to grieve for Ramprasad.
While expected to mourn along with their Amma for the 13 days, two days into the rituals, family members seem to be forgetful of the reason why they got together in the first place. The brothers get together every night at the terrace to share a few drinks and complain about their deceased father, often mentioning how unfair life has been to them.
It’s all fun and games, and occasional tears, until the bank knocks on Ramprasad’s door. The old man had taken a lump sum loan from the bank, keeping his shop as the mortgage, which he failed to repay during his life. Now the only concern becomes repaying the loan.
The story of who will pay how much, and who will eventually take Amma home makes up the second half of the film. My take on the movie through its 115 minutes of run time, Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi touches upon several intricacies and complexities of an Indian family.
There is age-old grievances, resentment, bitterness among family members, and a tinge of unrequited love. Despite all of this, the film fails to dive deep into the matters of the family, or create an impact as strong as similar Bollywood films like Kapoor and Sons or even Baghban.
It goes without saying that the cast is brilliant and like all other times, this time too, the actors do not disappoint. Supriya Pathak’s acting is poignant and is sure to evoke a sense of guilt in the audience who have at some point found themselves in Amma’s children’s shoes. Her constant repetition and description of her husband’s last few minutes of life portrays how hard she has been trying to hold on to her memories of him.
All the actors effortlessly fit their respective roles. While Pathak easily stands out from the crowd, Parambrata also creates an impact with his mysterious and calm character.
Besides playing Neetu, Ramprasad’s youngest son, he also plays young Ramprasad. And how finely he does that! Initially, when Amma gets flashbacks from the past of when the couple moved into their large Lucknow house with the hope that eventually the entire family would live under one roof, Parambrata slips into Naseeruddin’s shoes just right.
One who truly goes beyond the expectations is Vikrant Massey. The Balika Vadhu fame actor plays a hormonal young lad who falls in love with the wrong person, and eventually when his love is not reciprocated, he declines the love of another woman who truly loves him.
Unsure of whether he is ready for commitment, the actor chooses to be ‘friends with benefits’. Naive, confused, but too macho to confess his emotions, Vikrant expresses more effective with his eyes, than dialogues.
Seema Pahwa, who has been making a mark in the industry since the 80s as an actor, made sense for a movie like Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi to be her directorial debut. While the film raises the bar high enough, it doesn’t take it all the way through and the climax doesn’t impress much.
Lastly, music is an integral element of the film and has been wistfully used throughout Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi. Sagar Desai has done a brilliant job with the music, and tracks Ek Dhoora Kaam remains with the audience, long after the film.
Watch it for the brilliant acting by the powerful cast.