Ramprasad (Pahwa’s mentor Naseeruddin Shah) breathes his last suddenly and his family of almost 20 is left under one roof until ‘tehrvi’ (thirteenth day post the demise). The nuclear family marinates in the dust of the past and indulges in some spats, politics and grief is side-lined.
Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi is what happens after the family loses someone of importance. How long do you grieve, and how much is too much.
My introduction to Seema Pahwa was as an actor. I find myself unlucky to not have witnessed her off-stage work (which has been in theatre more) after indulging in this film. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi is an adaptation of the play Pind Daan also written and directed by Pahwa. And it is quite visible that it was made for a stage.
The closest a film has ever gotten to portray the complexities of a family has been Shakun Batra’s flawless Kapoor & Sons. Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi makes it that list. As already said the film is the purest understanding of the fabric of a family.
Having reflected on her real-life experiences, Pahwa as a writer and director do not go the cinematic way of over dramatisations or spoon-feeding music. This is a story we all have witnessed or lived majorly. What shines here is the screenplay. It is written in a stage format where characters enter and exit, and you can see the three-act structure. The story has a beating heart, and I can ignore a few flaws for that.
Seema Pahwa gets a wonderful cast. Look at the cast section and figure out why I say so. Supriya Pathak, who plays Ramprasad’s wife, is enough to hold this kingdom together. For a character that doesn’t speak her emotions much, Pathak talks with her eyes. Watch out for her when she realises that her near ones are not actually grieving the loss; she is a treat. Manoj Pahwa, Vinay Pathak, Ninad Kamat, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Deepika Amin are actors who have crossed the point where they need my validation. Special mention to Konkona Sen Sharma and Vikrant Massey who get the best story arcs. While Vikrant’s isn’t explored completely, he sells it and I bought it. Sharma does what she does best here.
Music by Sagar Desai is the cherry on the cake. Bulawa Aya Re and Ek Adhoora Kaam are tracks that deserve recognition. Sudip Sengupta’s camera makes us all one of their relatives as we eavesdrop on conversations and incidents. Parijat Poddar’s production design elevates all of this.
We have seen weddings and what goes around them. Here’s a funeral and the tug of war that goes around it. Seema Pahwa in her directorial debut is finding her voice and addressing a substantial conversation. I am in to see her make more of these. The climax does become a little preachy, but the journey is cathartic. This is a Tehrvi you should not be missing.