Thursday, October 22, 2015

review: KHWADA

Anything For His Flock

3 and 1/2 stars

Mini Review:

Tending to his sheep wherever he is allowed, this shepherd also looks after his two grown up sons, a wife, a daughter in law and two grandkids. His life is hard and the challenges that come his way make for a brilliant little portrait of rural life...

Main Review:

This is a story of a shepherd who has lost his lands to a forced takeover by the forest department is now wandering about the countryside with his flock of sheep and his family.

He is crotchety and irritable and does not want to wander about with other shepherds because he wants to find the best grazing lands for his sheep, and is carving his own path with the help of his two sons.

Shashank Shende plays the part of the shepherd Raghu Karhe so well, you are convinced he was born with the shepherd's headgear and stick in his hand. 

Raghu has two sons, and Balu the younger is ready to be hitched and his head is full of dreams when his dad accepts an offer for his marriage from a villager. Balu is a character which makes writers wish they had written him up. He's like a happy ram in heat, preening into every mirror he can see. The simplicity of his dreams make him instantly likeable.

But all is not well in this already rough counrtyside life. The villain is a local politician who owns an wrestling team that seems to win the money in all the local contests. Balu's dream of making money by wrestling earns the politician's wrath...

What happens next is like being in an avalanche. You are so relaxed by the slow grazing of the goats, the friendly spats between Raghu the patriarch and his wife, Raghu and his sons, you are quite taken aback by the events that follow Balu and his encounter with the politician. 

You stare at the screen unable to shake your head in disbelief at the events and you are compelled to throw away all screenwriting gyan you have learnt. The call to action, the rapid escalation of the events and the climax happen in the last half hour. And you realise that you've been lulled by the pace of the film and the action will surely amaze you.

This is a debut film for writer/director Bhaurao Karhade, and what a superb understated debut it is.

The pace of the film is as sedate as watching goats grazing under the sun. But the story is enough to stay in your head long after the sun has set on the little village. 

The film releases with subtitles, and it's a must see. Khwada means obstacle... nothing more than a pebble in your sandal. It's perfectly named. Go see it and you'll know why...

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