Tribhanga — Tedhi Medhi Crazy Movie Review
We’re the product of our choices, as they say. And have to suffer the consequences of both good and bad choices. No one makes perfect choices. What’s important is that those choices should be our own choices and shouldn’t be imposed on us. Living with the consequences of a wrong choice, as long as it was an independent choice, is still a victory — at least that’s the lesson of the film. Tribhanga, whose title is taken from a dance pose in Odissi dance, looks at the life of three generations of women who made their own choices and how those choices affected them and those around them.
For Nayantara Apte (Tanvi Azmi), writing is more than her passion, it’s her whole world. It’s her regret that she can’t write her autobiography in longhand as she suffers from arthritis. She left her weak husband and her complaining mother-in-law because they couldn’t relate to her madness. She becomes a successful writer but sadly neglects her children, who grow up emotionally scarred. Her daughter Anuradha, in particular, faces real trauma but she remains blind to it at the time. Anuradha Apte (Kajol) grows up to become an acclaimed actress and Odissi dancer. However, we don’t get to see her shooting or to perform on stage. She’s a foul-mouthed, loud and edgy individual, and like her mother doesn’t believe in the conventions of marriage and unknowingly bestows the same emotional scars on her daughter Masha (Mithila Palkar) as her mother did on her. Masha, a child born of wedlock, chooses to marry into a traditional joint family in search of stability, only to realise that everything comes with a price.
Tribhanga points out that making a free choice is harder for women than it’s for men. That patriarchy will always come in the way of women, no matter what. So it’s better to show the middle finger to society and just live your own life. Apart from its feminist stance, the film portrays how complicated relationships can be. And it’s this complexity which hasn’t been expertly navigated by Renuka Shahane, who makes her Hindi directorial debut with the film.
While Anuradha does care deeply for her mother and shows that by being at her side when she slips into a coma, she also has a genuine reason for hating her. Their reconciliation would require sessions of dialogue rather than the sudden heart change as seen in the film. And how’s Anuradha blind to the fact that she’s not paying enough attention to her daughter, a crime for which she and her brother Robindro (Vaibhav Tatwawaadi), who looks like he’s part of the Hare Krishna movement, never forgave their mother and cut off all ties with her. They even stopped calling her Aai and called her Nayan. Nayan’s attempt at writing a book about her life is her extended love letter to her children, her way of reaching out after years of separation. And she’s helped in this quick fix by her disciple and official biographer Milan Upadhyay (Kunaal Roy Kapoor), who has a penchant of using chaste Hindi and who is offended by cuss words when spoken by women. Milan is the soul of goodness and wants Robindro and Anuradha to forgive her, especially since she’s in a coma.
The film is supposed to be about three women but Kajol and Tanvi Azmi have been given the lion’s share of the proceedings. Mithila Palkar doesn’t have much to do and is underutilised in the film. Nayan is shown to be brutally honest and Tanvi puts lots of candour in her performance, neither hiding the flaws nor needlessly putting an extra polish on her character’s strengths. Anuradha goes from one extreme to the other and Kajol has caught onto that characteristic and plays her character with the required verve and energy. It’s a pleasure to watch her owning the screen in her scenes. She has shown once more that she really knows how to emotionally connect with the audience. Masha is an underwritten character. Mithila gets one strong scene in the film and executes it flawlessly. We would have liked more scenes involving her and Kajol. Supporting characters, like veteran Kanwaljeet, Manav Kaul, Vaibhav Tatwawaadi and Kunaal Roy Kapur too look good doing their bits.
All in all, while Renuka Shahane has made an all-heart film, it’s something of a work in progress, rather than a finished product. But it’s a fine beginning nevertheless and she holds true promise for the future.
Trailer : Tribhanga — Tedhi Medhi Crazy
Renuka Vyavahare, January 15, 2021, 5:00 PM IST
STORY: Tracing three generations of women from a dysfunctional family with diverse life choices, Tribhanga is a story of mothers and daughters, their estranged relationship and what binds them together despite the differences. It also analyses society’s tendency to label women no matter what they do.
REVIEW: Actress turned director-writer Renuka Shahane, daughter of renowned writer Shanta Gokhale goes behind the camera to bring you yet another story of women who rethink their life decisions. She previously made and acted in Rita (2009), a thought provoking Marathi film based on her mother’s acclaimed novel Rita Welinkar. Tribhanga, her second outing as a director doesn’t have a solid source material and thus feels a tad jumbled and lost. Unlike Rita, this film’s central character — Kajol as a feisty and foul mouthed dancer-actor-single mother Anuradha Apte — isn’t driven by her responsibilities or regrets. She is unapologetic about saying what she feels and doing what she does. Part autobiographical and part fiction, the film meanders indefinitely before getting its point across. At heart, it deals with a dilemma that continues to plague women. What’s better? Having the freedom to make your choices even if they turn out to be wrong or being defined by society’s expectations of you.
Tribhanga shuttles between past and present as a chaste Hindi speaking writer Milan (Kunaal Roy Kapur) interviews award winning author Nayantara Apte (Tanvi Azmi) for her biography. Along with her undying passion for writing, she reflects upon her failed marriages and how it may have adversely affected her children — Anuradha (Kajol) and Robindro (Vaibhav Tatwawaadi). Anuradha grows upto be a renowned Odissi dancer and a successful Bollywood actor, who spouts expletives at the drop of a hat. She is also a single mother, who is protective of her daughter Masha (Mithila Palkar), given her own experiences. Anuradha doesn’t call Nayantara ‘aai’ (mother) for reasons disclosed in due course. Nayan slips into coma after a brain stroke, compelling Anu to introspect and look back at her equation with her mother and life gone by.
Women have a knack of overthinking and overanalysing what they may have done right or wrong, so Shahane’s urge to capture that aspect feels organic. However, her sluggish narrative and desire to give this emotional tale a black comedy
twist doesn’t quite work. A doctor says, “Aapki ma coma main hai, par koi chinta ki baat nahi hai.” The punches don’t land well and the central character’s (Anu) idea of liberation feels a tad warped and immature. You find it difficult to understand Anu beyond her loud demeanour and devil-may-care attitude. The writing only scratches the surface and is unable to peel off the layers and show you what these people truly stand for. Your emotional investment in the film and its characters is marred by its inability to draw you in.
Anu’s angst against her mother stems from a traumatic past and none of it manages to tug at your heartstrings. You don’t feel affected or related to the characters and language seems partly responsible for it. Like Rita, this could have perhaps worked better in Marathi had it retained the authenticity of its thoughts. The storytelling isn’t gripping and it all moves at a snail’s pace, oscillating between past and present. The events and interactions fail to hold your attention or have an impact on you as an individual.
That Kajol is a fine actress, goes without saying. However, (in OTT debut) she feels a tad overbearing here with her over-the-top performance. You want to listen to her when she isn’t saying much but she rarely allows you this privilege. You expect people to stop talking and look within, but the film lacks moments of devastating silence that Shahane was able to create in her previous film as a director. Mithila Palkar doesn’t have a meaty part but she renders a mature performance. And we wish Tanvi Azmi wasn’t bedridden throughout the movie. If anyone had the potential to lend this film the gravitas it desperately needed, it was her.
The idea behind the movie is inspirational but ideas aren’t enough unless they make for a riveting viewing experience. If you haven’t, watch Shahane’s ‘Rita’ instead.
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