wogma rating: Watch when on TV/online (?)
If only good intentions could bridge the gap between characters’ aspirations and your emotions.Read more
Generation gap is quite a fascinating premise for all sorts of artistic forms, especially films. After all, where would you get conflicts, plenty of multi-faceted characters, repressed dreams, struggles to realise those dreams, self-discoveries so readily available? Pretty much a basis for a strong plot, isn’t it? Call this as its beauty or the best part, Rajwade and Sons brims with all of this, and yet it is nothing like any joint family dramas you would probably have bumped into in the recent times. The backdrop of a never-seen-before, super-rich-Marathi-business family sets the tone just right, and more imperatively, non-human elements that both enfolds and drives the central theme. Even so, something just doesn’t feel right as characters emerge. Sooner or later, you realise that’s lack of feeling, your feelings for characters, your feelings for their emotional turbulence and so on.
No time is wasted in building the main purpose. From the first frame itself, you get the sense of a family home, its rustiness, long-forgotten memories, the old charm and much more. But as you witness, dwellers find no resonance with you whatsoever. And the abode is already being vacated to facilitate its demolition and construction of an upmarket, residential tower over it. You see the joint family now living separately at a temporary, but plush building. Interestingly, the patriarch of the family wants all the generations to stay under one roof. He is a control freak. Not only does he control his own adult children, but he also governs the future of his young grandchildren. Younger Rajwades are now basking in their newly-found personal space, while older ones – with strong conventional values – can’t come to terms with it.
Parents always watch out for their kids, out of genuine concern or an authoritative personality. But the Rajwades are unlike any other, at least thematically. They’re affluent, influential, successful, but conservative, prestige-maniacs, money-minded inwards. This generational conflict is amusing initially and gets intense with the build up. While you mostly side with the younger generation, you also start recognising the cloaked side of the generation in between, their dilemmas, unfulfilled dreams and constraints. When you can’t have your way, you try to figure a way out, if indeed you can. So some characters have dual lives, even as others have no idea what life holds for them. Their situation may not seem as appalling as it sounds, but deep down it affects their mindset and effects their contrasting demeanour. A thoughtful characterisation, I must say.
But, the film is neither whole-heartedly funny, nor is it emotionally absorbing – largely related to young guns. I am not too sure if that’s due to certain actors’ inability, directional slip, sound recording or final mixing issues, the dialogue occasionally falls flat and sounds flimsy. It should seem real, rich, and not badly dubbed. The writing can’t be absolved from all blame either, and the highlight being some badly-written, explanatory dialogues. You’re repeatedly told, a certain character is missing. The cause is hammered in. I understand his significance to the narrative. I also understand the importance of information. But, the need for spilling the beans so easily is beyond me.
Happy Journey, Kundalkar’s earlier venture, was also about self-discovery. A little too much spoon-feeding and philosophical commentary dampens the latest. Having ideated this brilliant setting, it’s sad that the film doesn’t exploit it to a greater emotional benefit. Don’t make me cry, great if you can, but at least make me feel or root for the characters. Let me feel what it means to reunite with your past. Let me soak in the sorrow of detachment. This state itself is so poetic that you don’t need melodrama to make it overwhelming. Tears will roll down on their own, if you connect. Such a bond is scanty throughout with that said-missing character who tries to push others. He looks so cool, talks so right and (suddenly) becomes so important. Poorly cast, he influences people to let go of things to realise their true calling. This verbal talk is all right, but doesn’t move me even a little.
When living characters fail to pull me in, silent ones come to my rescue – leaving me in complete awe of them. The old home, newly-shifted building and future apartment act as a metaphor for the ever-changing face of cities, in this case Pune. Interwoven with care, yet thoughtfully hidden behind, these structures come together as an inborn binding force – making an implicit commentary on our living at large. I have already left the story, its imperfect family behind. But the longing of changing abode is forever going to stay with me.
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