Mumbai, 24 Mar 2022 12:01 IST
First-time director Rasika Agashe portrays the lives of the invisible and marginalized sections truthfully.
Earlier this month, Nagraj Popatrao Manjule’s Jhund (2022) threw light on the lives of the so-called lower castes and marginalized sections of Indian society. Theatre personality and film actress Rasika Agashe’s debut Marathi movie Ticha Shahar Hona performs a similar task with a different subject and storyline.
While Jhund spoke of the need to give equal opportunities to this section of the population, especially in activities like sports, Agashe’s movie highlights their everyday struggle to survive even 75 years after India became independent.
Ticha Shahar Hona is set in today’s Mumbai, where the upper middle class and the affluent are wholly dependent on their household assistants hailing from marginalized sections of society, but know absolutely nothing about the kind of lives they lead.
Archana (Sonali Kulkarni), an information technology professional, and her husband (Prasad Oak) lead a comfortable life. When their help goes on leave, they desperately need a replacement and Archana gets in touch with Kiran-didi (Chhaya Kadam), part of an agency that provides such help.
After some initial hesitation, Archana comes to respect Kiran-didi. However, a shocking incident changes her life and brings her into contact with the world in which the marginalized live. She starts to feel an empathy for them and forms an unusual bond, much to her husband's dislike.
Ticha Shahar Hona establishes the subject and the gap between the two sections through visuals and subtle dialogues. You learn where Archana and Kiran belong right in the first scene in their very first interaction.
The film also throws light on the indifference of the privileged classes towards the marginalized through Oak's character. The prejudice and Islamophobia that lurks beneath the surface among the so-called elites is exposed subtly when a house help introduces herself as Fatima.
But the basic aim of Ticha Shahar Hona is to build a bridge between the two Indias. The film's best moments are those in which Archana not only develops an empathy for people from the slums, but also starts considering them as fellow humans. The change in her outlook happens naturally and is not forced.
Sonali Kulkarni, as expected from a seasoned artiste, lives the journey of her character. The film would have come a cropper if she had faltered even a bit. Hemangi Kavi in the role of a slum-dweller and rickshaw driver steals the show. She goes effortlessly from being emotional to angry.
Chhaya Kadam makes an impact despite not having much screentime. Prasad Oak is convincing as the indifferent man of privilege. Omkar Govardhan, Aarti More and Sagar Deshmukh offer reliable support.
The film begins by creating a major point of conflict between Archana and the slum-dwellers. But their grudge against her is simply forgotten later. This is the only loose end in the narrative.
Ticha Shahar Hona, with a runtime of just 98 minutes, can be described as an experimental film. It might not be visually pleasing, but it does justice to the subject. The climax might be unacceptable to some, but it worked for this reviewer because it shows clearly, again without someone having to say it in so many words, how deep-rooted the problems of the deprived sections are.
Ticha Shahar Hona was screened at the 12th Yashwant Film Festival in Mumbai on 22 March 2022 and at the 20th Pune International Film Festival held from 3–10 March 2022.
Related topicsPune International Film Festival
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