29th October 2020

Shradha(Disney-Hotstar)

Starring  Vikram Gokhale, Anushman Jha, Vinati  Makijany

Directed  by  Jasraj Padhye

Rating: ***

While Disney-Hotstar continues  to  promote  films with   A-listers  in the cast, a little gem  like Shradha gets submerged  in  the   brouhaha.Sad , because  here is  film that pleads for, no demands 20 minutes  of your time , and richly earns  it by using  every precious second to make a  thoughtful  statement on  life.Rather, on death. Which is really the  other side of  the  existential coin.

Set  in  a scenic   ashram where  miracle healing  is  punctuated by  daily  mesmeric sermons by a charismatic Baba, Shradha questions the  age-old  tussle between  blind faith and  rational science   with  a gentleness  of  a frail tune being played on the flute.There are  just three principal actors  in  the  film.  The redoubtable Vikram  Gokhale stands  tall as a  God-like  faith healer who needs some  serious healing.Gokhale  reminded me of Neeraj Kaba  in  Ship Of Theseus.  

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There is a  shocking moment in the narrative when the Guruji is literally spat upon by his  co-star Anshuman Jha who represents the  gnawing  rage  of the rationale mind determined to demolish all  remnants  of  superstition and blind faith.Vikram Gokhale actually  flinches as Anshuman performs the ultimate  act  of humiliation. They  are both actors who can lift the spirits  of  a script. Shradha soars,  thanks  to  these two actors and  a  script that constantly questions the  dimensions  of faith and science without  getting judgmental  in  the  process.

A  third character  a frail pretty  bhakt of  the  Guru in spotless white , played by  Vinati Makinjany will stay with you after   this short film with long legs  has played outs its karmic  message.

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Fragile  but firm in its  faith in the power  of cinema to  heal a  fractured tormented  society,    Shradha brings  a significant directorial talent to the fore.We  will hear a  lot more about Jasraj Padhye in the times  to come.  The best compliment that can be  paid to  Shradha is, why a  short  film when  this has enough dramatic conflict for a  full feature film?

And a question to Disney-Hotstar: why  subject such a laudable film to  a quick death?

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