Starring: Madan Deodhar, Alok Rajwade, Girish Kulkarni, Mohan Agashe
Directed by Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni
Umesh Kulkarni’s Marathi film Vihir is a luminous instance of the classic, humanist tradition of filmmaking. The simplicity of the story hides layers of meanings. Vihir haunts with its philosophical portrayal of life and death contained in childhood games hide ’n seek and Chinese whispers.
Teenaged cousins Nachiket and Sameer are the best of friends. The wedding of an aunt at the ancestral house gets them together. It’s here that the existentialist angst and death wish of Nachiket come to the fore, which brings a rift between them. It’s something Sameer can’t fathom. What is Nachiket’s pursuit of the unknown, what inscrutable truth is he trying to understand? Why does he want to become invisible? Where does he want to escape to? The first track of the film closes with Nachiket finding his liberation in the family well where they used to swim together; the well, a source of joy, also unleashes sorrows.
The film then moves on to focus on Sameer coming to terms with his immense loss; it’s not about relating a story but about evoking a mood, an unspoken feeling. It’s an aching portrayal of an adolescent’s silent mourning, be it his inarticulate pain which finds a rare, enraged expression like when he finds his mother reading his diary or his attempt to hold his breath in the swimming pool to experience mortality closely. Perhaps it’s to do with the imagery of the pool that Sameer’s search becomes reminiscent of Juliette Binoche’s reconciliation with loss in Three Colours Blue. His journey—physical and internal—does get stretched and you long for him to find peace and resolution but then grief takes its own time to abate and life has its own rhythms which the film tries to replicate.
The characters are rooted, the details of family life incisive. Be it the warmth and love of the cousins or the little misunderstandings of the elders, Kulkarni spells things subtly and believably. Technically the film is as accomplished. Sudhir Palsane’s visuals have grace, quietude and lyricism. The images flow like water, the film’s binding metaphor. Add to it a phenomenally fluid soundtrack and you get cinema at its purest. Vihir is a rare beauty of a film.
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Courtesy: Film Information