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"Mitr-My Friend"

IT'S NOT easy to let go especially when one cares so much — it's also not easy to accept that life is going past and one did nothing about it. But it does and when you have given your all to your family and there comes a time when they don't really need you except as part of the furniture, the hurt and the loneliness are immense. Almost invariably, the soul searching starts and in the process the individual emerges and focus sets in. It happens to the best of us and more so to those who leave their shores, roots, tradition and who remain in a time warp simply because their memories become the reality.

"Mitr- My Friend"... for the millions of women who sacrifice their all at the altar of the family.

In actress Revathi's first directorial venture "Mitr - My Friend", produced by Telephoto Entertainments Limited and being promoted by Columbia Tristar Films, the protagonist Lakshmi (Shobana) one day realises that there is more to life than just cooking and caring for the family — in this case a husband Prithvi (Nasir Abdullah) and 17-year old daughter Divya (Preeti Vissa). A poignantly told situation where right through the narration, the loneliness and alienation is palpable — drawing you right into the situation and making you a part of it. If there are instances where it is a bit overdone its because it's a slice of life and you do need to over-emphasise to drive home a point.

A small town girl, Lakshmi, gets married to Prithvi, born and brought up in the U.S. Life is wonderful — with an attentive husband who does everything to please his beautiful wife and they have a child and life seems complete — but things change — the very things that Prithvi liked about his wife soon start irritating him and with the years the child is no longer a baby dependent on the mother. As independence in thought and actions sets in on the part of Divya, the cultural differences become huge barriers in their relationship. And like many men caught up in the process of achieving success in the work front, Prithvi completely misses the gnawing loneliness and isolation of the wife.

When things go out of hand between Lakshmi and Divya, after an argument Divya storms out of the house and Lakshmi is appalled that Prithvi blames her for the situation. Devastated and confused she turns to the computer and finds a friend — talking to a stranger is sometimes easier to see things in perspective she is told by her online friend. And well that's exactly what happens — she reviews her life and suddenly discovers that there is a lot more to do — carpentry, dance classes, trying out new hairstyles and the transformation from the weepy, nagging woman to a different kind of person starts.

It's a film that you cannot really find fault with — the visuals (camera-Fowzia Fathima) are beautiful — capturing the best of locations in San Francisco where the major part of the film has been shot, the performances (Shobana, Preeti, Mathew Philip, Blake Ormsby) which are as natural as life itself, except for Nasir who now and then does not seem very convinced with what he is doing, the dialogue (Priya Venkateshwaran-Sudha Kongara) which are shorn of any redundancy, and the narration (story Priya Venkateshwaran) itself which flows rather convincingly almost till the very end. The suspense about the identity of the friend of course warranted for cinematic purposes — when most would have guessed it half way through. Giving all the emotions and the situations its feel is the music (Bhavatharini Ilaiyaraja).

This is a film for adolescents and for those millions of women who need not be martyrs at the altar of family and homemaking. Having said that it is also a film that would have made tremendous sense ten years ago — especially in the U.S. How many women today would appear so helpless and allow themselves to be treated the way Lakshmi is, even if they are just housewives and away from their country of origin?


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