Have you ever tried to visualise how the world will remember you through photos after death? The latest Marathi movie, 'Photo-Prem', showcasing on Amazon Prime Video, directed and written by Aditya Rathi and Gayatri
Patel, tries to implore just that.
Remember Monica and Chandler from 'Friends' trying to get an engagement picture and Chandler getting all awkward and uncomfortable while facing the camera? Well, in 'Photo Prem', the protagonist Maee (Neena Kulkarni) has
a similar problem. She is camera-shy and gets extremely awkward posing
for pictures, ever since a teenager. It's not clear in the movie why she feels so uncomfortable with the camera.
Maee expresses hesitation on being photographed is her biggest struggle. She gets anxious, starts making excuses every time someone takes out a camera to snap, and even avoids pictures from her own daughter's wedding.
But this changes when the wife of her husband’s friend dies and Maee attends the funeral. She notices the deceased woman's family running around trying to find a picture of her for a newspaper obituary. Later, when Maee visits the woman’s home, she sees the picture of a young girl on the wall; obviously the family was not able to find a latest photo of the deceased.
The incident pushes Maee to think about her own death and how her grandchildren can remember her in the absence of a photo. And the rest of the movie revolves around her attempt to get over her deep sense of inexplicable shyness and get a picture of herself clicked. Well, I think this sudden obsession is not written with a sense of believable conviction.
In one scene, it is revealed that she was not even a part of her honeymoon pictures. Her obnoxious husband (Vikas Hande), who keeps lording over her and hardly ever talks to her, complains that she never showed up for their honeymoon pictures and that he thinks he went alone.
The movie also shows the connection between Maee's desire to overcome her shyness and her husband’s dismissive attitude. The photograph is to Maee what English speaking lessons were to the housewife in 'English Vinglish' -- the key to greater confidence.
'Photo-Prem' seems such a drag even with its relatively short runtime of 90 minutes, peppered as it is with silly situations. Incidents such as the little girl motivating her for taking pictures through a video call and her own daily conversations with her domestic help are at best silly, and if the writers had fancied that these would produce laughs, they could not have been wide off the mark.
The centre of attraction in the movie is Neena Kulkarni, both funny and touching as the put-upon Maee who gets some of her inspiration from an overblown television soap. Although Maee's journey from near-erasure to self empowerment is grossly underdeveloped, Kulkarni has taken on this responsibility as it is a story revolving around a single character in the entire film, which is why we get lost in this whole journey of Maee.
Chaitrali Rode attracts attention in the role of a house help. The other characters played by Amita Khopkar, Vikas Hande, Sameer Dharmadhikari, Samay Tambe, Ashwini Mukadam, Vitthal Gaonkar, Nilkanth Sawant are short but they are effective in those places. One gossipy woman obsessed with Solapur is delightfully played by Gitanjali Kambli.
The film is a funny, quintessential take on what we leave behind for memories or legacy. The story also shows the details of how your photo shows your personality. So, you have to experience this unforgettable journey of this movie.
'Photo-Prem' is streaming on Amazon Prime Video India. Do watch.