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Dithee Dithers Between Life & Death,Finally Falls In The Abyss

Dithee(Marathi,SonyLIV)
Starring:  Kishore Kadam, Amruta Subhash, Shashank Shende
Written  & Directed by : Sumitra Bhave
Rating: ***

Discursive dramas  on death  and  life(in that order) are  prevalent in  cinema all across the world. In Hindi we had  Mahesh Bhatt’s  vivid  and memorable Saraansh , one  of  the more  immortal  films on  mortality that  stood  out  for its  lead performance and its powerful dialogues. Both  the factors, the lead  performance  and  the  power-driven dialogues  empower   this  highly-acclaimed  Marathi film which  asks this question:  yes,  life moves on after  a loved one dies, but what if  the  bereaved can’t move on  with life? Do you end  your life in  the  hope that you will reunite with the one who is gone?Or do you  look for reasons for what the Bee Gees famously described as Stayin’ Alive?For Ramji(Kishore Kadam, giving a performance  that claims  brilliance as a  birthright) the finality  of death  is impossible to  accept. When the one  gone is  his only son how can  life ever be  filled with  sunshine? The hope of his autumnal  security is extinguished. Ramji is  inconsolable. His friends, played by a gaggle of brilliant actors Mohan Agashe, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Girish Kulkarni(a tad young for the wizened company he keeps) and  what a pleasure to see the much-missed Uttara Baokar  as the  compassionate  matriarch, rally around Ramji, try to push him out of  the abyss.Divert his mind with passages about life after death from the holy scriptures .But Ramji’s stubborn refusal to accept his son’s  departure  is   like  a cloud hovering over  the  characters . Providentially, and with calculated lyricism, it rains  and it pours in the  film while Ramji’s tears remain frozen  .The  visual mix of grief and  cloudbursts is  captured  by cinematographer Dananjay Kulkarni  in swirls  of  misgivings.Then  something happens. A  nervous couple,  exceptionally  played by Amruta Subhash and  Shashank Shende,  are awaiting the birth  of a calf. And their cow is in labour distress. Ramji’s intervention is required. Here is  where I had difficulties  going along with Ms Bharve’s  philosophical  arguments.For one  ,it appears insensitive to  solicit a bereaved father’s services  to deliver a  calf . More importantly  Ramji’s  transformation  from  monstrous unreasonable   grief(he shouts  for his daughter-in-law, the underused Anjali Patil, to leave with her newly-born baby girl as she was unable  to “give back” his son to  him by  delivering a boy) to  sudden acceptance  of  the  loss and  even joy in the  new birth, is  not fully convincing.It looks labored. Even if one  accepts Ramji’s transformative leap as  divine  intervention, it is  still not  certain why a man lately so wounded by  grief would be so accepting  of his  loss after a calf is born.All I can say is,good for Ramji. Life’s losses are  less lyrical far more difficult to  accept. Despite the fatal flaw, Dithee is  a film that  needs to be seen for its  visual texture(dark louring skies, pelting rain) and its celebration of  the life-force with  a joyous  song at  the  end where  everyone joins in with not a  care  in the world.Indeed, Dithee works better as a stage  play on film.  The characters are  often seen  in postures  suggesting the  presence  of an audience somewhere  out there. Invisible ,invincible, incomprehensible.  

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