At the JIO-MAMI film festival 2017

Kachcha Limbu: Bold but not beautiful

Marathi cinema has been consistently venturing into unconventional zones; dealing with bold, significant yet frequently discomfiting issues. The strength of ideas often derives from literature. The potency of Prasad Oak’s Kachcha Limbu too lies in the fact that it is based on contemporary Marathi writer Jaywant Dalvi’s novel, Runanubandha , which he had himself also adapted into a play called Natigoti . The film then, is about the life of a couple—Mohan (Ravi Jadhav) and Shaila Katdare (Sonali Kulkarni)—with a special child called Bachchu (Manmeet Pem), it looks specifically at the challenges thrown at them when their son hits puberty and hormones kick in with an unforeseen ferocity.

The film essentially looks at the web of relationships at various levels—the ties that bind the couple, that binds them to the son, individually and together. Planning for his future without them, saving for a trust in his name—these are details that would ring a bell with many a parent with differently abled kids. But there’s more. It’s also about how their only kid drives them asunder—wife works during the day, husband at night, with little time shared together. They are like the sun and the moon, not Adam and Eve, is how Shaila wryly describes their lack of togetherness. It’s hard for the two to find any moments of intimacy, there’s no space for privacy. No wonder Shailaja often desires “my share of joy” even while acknowledging that Bachchu is “our son after all” while a frustrated Mohan wants him to just “go to sleep”.

The film steps into forbidden zones. The sexual awakening of the son and its consequences is, perhaps, the most important strain. It’s hard to recollect a film, other than Shonali Bose’s Margarita With A Straw (MWAS), that acknowledges sexuality in differently abled people. But, while MWAS, normalised, to an extent even celebrated it, Kachcha Limbu presents it in a raw, unvarnished, often excessive, horrific and unpalatable way, specially in the potential transgressions in relationships.

The story could have been far more subtly told and does fall victim to narrative excesses. It gets too flat and heavy-handed and drowned out by an overriding morbidity and countless maudlin moments. Every character comes with a sad back-story, be it a sensitive boss Pandit (Sachin Khedekar) or a colleague Venkat (Anant Narayanan), who has his own demons to come to terms with. While Ravi Jadhav ends up sporting a singular, vacant wet-eyed look, it’s Sonali Kulkarni who brings out the requisite nuances and predicaments of her character.

The use of black and white instead of a colour palette itself feels affected than organic. And then there’s the obvious metaphor of a running tap in the aftermath of a masturbation scene. Some imaginativeness and delicacy would have helped here.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 7:22:27 PM |

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