Movie Over Matter
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Movie Over Matter

Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi — Funeral Takes A Backseat

This movie accurately shows family dynamics that we are all too familiar with — this is why it is an interesting watch and provides a good excuse for self-reflection.

Five minutes into the movie, the males in the family are talking about who all are yet to arrive for the funeral ceremonies and then the oldest male says that he was the first one to arrive. Another male responds that he stays the closest that’s why it was possible for him to arrive quickly whereas those who stay very far, such as Mumbai, will take more time to arrive.

When we meet someone after a long time, we meet with socially accepted niceties and express joy or concern as the situation might need. The discord or animosity that had been covered by reasoning or lies takes time to surface. This movie vividly shows that, and through seemingly normal conversation, it demonstrates that many old wounds can easily be scratched and made to bleed again.

The movie first shows arguments over trivial issues such as cost of wood for the funeral pyre, but escalates to bigger aspects such as how much did the parents care for their children and how much do the children care for their parents. The arguments happen among the group of men and among women, and then everyone comes together and ends up arguing. This may sound shallow and silly but the nuances depicted through the dialogues and interaction between characters, especially the ones lamenting about the lack of love or wealth in their family, and the sacrifices they’ve made that went unnoticed, is just too real and you will definitely find some family member in your extended family if you decide to connect or reconnect with your family today.

The kids remain unaffected throughout the 13 days funeral rituals and final rites of the deceased head of the family (their grandfather). And though the sons, daughters, daughters-in-law and sons-in-law are affected by this untimely demise, it isn’t due to love or feeling of loss. The movie also shows that the bond of love between siblings during younger days can easily weaken under the stress of challenges of daily life and family situations.

The movie isn’t all dark and gloomy, it has its fun aspects, such as a grandson trying to have a love affair, the older sister and brother of the deceased arguing at each other as little children, and two men trying to decide whether food at a funeral should be tasty or bland.

In short, the movie packs so much in its run time of 2 hours 19 minutes that you may miss some things that may urge you to watch this movie again. During the 13 day time period of this movie, I hoped that the movie will resolve certain situations (that it introduced us to) that have lingered for many years in the family member’s lives. And it does resolve some issues, creates new issues, and shows that some issues can’t be resolved by a family gathering because it is what it is (such as who will take care of the widow mother-in-law?).

Towards the end, the wife of the deceased laments that nobody truly cares and all her children have all moved on. But she obviously hadn’t moved on. The real tragedy in the movie isn’t the death of Ramprasad, but the lonely life of his wife who is left behind. The most gut-wrenching moment in the movie — which is also made into a comic-relief moment — is that the wife of the deceased is made to re-live that tragic moment of her husband’s death by every person who visits her and asks her how did he die. Her children eventually go back to their own lives with their own families (spouse and children), but where will this old lady go? Her husband at least had her and his music to keep him company, she only had her husband and he was no more.

It isn’t easy to provide a satisfying end to a dense and complex, yet simple and direct story but I’m glad that Seema Pahwa, the director and story-writer has provided just the kind of ending that such a story must have — a good lesson in moving on and solving your own problems instead of relying on anyone else (who are anyways struggling in their own lives).

Kudos to Seema Pahwa and the entire team of highly skilled cast and crew to create a highly engaging story that we must revisit from time to time.

You can watch this movie on Netflix.

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Abhishek Sainani

An aspiring writer who often juggles between his inner world, his dream world, and the real world. Writes poetry, humorous observations and opinion pieces.