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Review Kannada

Nathicharami review: Explores a young widow’s sexuality in a simple yet bold manner

Release Date: 31 Oct 2018 / Rated: A / 01hr 53min

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Keyur Seta

Director Mansore’s Kannada movie looks at the life of a widow in an urban setting, pointing out that it remains tough even in 2018.

Life for a young widow is quite challenging in many parts of India even today. Apart from being looked at as inauspicious, she has to tolerate the hungry eyes of lecherous men. Films like Deepa Mehta’s Water (2005, Hindi) and Mahesh Waman Manjrekar’s Kaksparsh (2012, Marathi) have explored the sorry state of widows.

However, the protagonists of these films were based in rural, traditional settings. Director Mansore’s Kannada movie Nathicharami looks at the life of a widow in an urban setting, and points out that it is no different even in 2018. Further, things get tough for her if she expresses her physical needs.

Nathicharami revolves around Gowri (Sruthi Hariharan), who lives alone in Bengaluru. Her husband Mahesh (Poornachandra Mysuru) was killed in a car accident five years ago. She had married him against her parents’ wishes and Mahesh’s parents, too, were not willing to accept Gowri as their daughter-in-law. She works as a team leader in an IT firm.

Gowri still loves Mahesh and is unable to forget him. That is the reason she hates the very suggestion of remarriage proposed by her parents and friends. But deep inside, she is lonely. This starts affecting her work. Her psychiatrist Carvalho (Balaji Manohar) believes lack of sexual activity is the reason. However, Gowri feels she would be betraying Mahesh if she were to get intimate with someone else.

Gowri makes a new friend Suresh (Sanchari Vijay) who attends the same morning exercise sessions. She befriends him as he is the only man who doesn’t look at her as a sexual object. But Suresh is a different person inside his house with his wife.

With this plot outline, one might assume Nathicharami to be an emotional drama, especially the incident where Mahesh is killed in an accident. However, that is not the case. We are informed about Mahesh’s death in the most simple yet creative manner. So, although you feel sad, you can’t help but be impressed by the way the incident is presented.

The same simplicity is maintained throughout the film. Every turn, every confrontation in the tale is presented in the most natural manner, leaving no scope for melodrama whatsoever. The scenes of Gowri’s parents urging her to remarry could have been as dramatic as the daily soaps, but, thankfully, they are not.

The idea of putting forth the sexual needs of a widow was the biggest challenge here. Sequences of Gowri buying and using a vibrator have no dialogues but successfully describe her situation.

However, the manner in which one of the characters gets ready to take a serious step in the second half of the film appears sudden. It is difficult to overlook this as it is a big turning point in the story.

It was necessary for Sruthi Hariharan to be in synch with the simple and subtle style of narration, else it would have diluted the film's overall impact. She does exactly that by mostly expressing her pain through expressions. She doesn’t overdo her act even a bit. Hers is a flawless performance.

Sanchari Vijay also had a difficult task playing a character with two very different shades — one with Gowri and the other at home. His character, too, is believable as he realistically switches between the two. Balaji Manohar is not quite convincing as a psychiatrist from his looks and personality, but makes up by his performance.

Overall, Nathicharami might not offer a solution to the problems faced by widows, but it does the much needed task of throwing light on the issue.

Nathicharami was screened at the 20th Mumbai Film Festival on 31 October 2018.


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