Death is a tragic phenomenon of life. But several films in Bollywood have presented this inevitability in a lighter or even in an outrageously funny way. For example, JAANE BHI DO YAARO , EKKEES TOPPON KI SALAAMI , DADDY COOL , BUDDHA MAR GAYA , MALAMAAL WEEKLY , PUSHPAK , NEHLLE PE DEHLLA , etc. Now Seema Pahwa’s directorial debut RAMPRASAD KI TEHRVI also promises to have a light take on death. So does RAMPRASAD KI TEHRVI manage to entertain and impress viewers? Or does it fail in its endeavour? Let’s analyse.
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RAMPRASAD KI TEHRVI is the story of a family assembling together after ages due to a tragedy. Ramprasad (Naseeruddin Shah) is an old aged patriarch who suddenly passes away while teaching piano at his house to a kid in the neighbourhood. He resided with his wife, addressed as Amma (Supriya Pathak) by one and all. Their sons and daughters live in different parts of the country. Obviously they all rush to Ramprasad’s mansion, located in a small house in Uttar Pradesh as soon as they get the news. What should have been a period of mourning for the family results in chaos as past wounds resurface. On top of that, Seema (Konkona Sen Sharma), wife of the youngest son of Ramprasad, Nishant aka Neetu (Parambrata Chatterjee) does not come. It leads to gossip and speculation among the wives of the other sons. Meanwhile, since Ramprasad passed away on December 19, the pandit announces that the <em>tehrvi</em> will hence fall on January 1. It leads to an argument in the family as some feel it will be awkward for people to attend such a ceremony on the first day of the year. The issue resolves and then, another problem arises. Ramprasad’s children come to know that the patriarch had opted for a loan of Rs. 10 lakhs and that he has returned only Rs. 3 lakhs. It is now their responsibility to repay the rest of the amount. While going through his diary, they come to know that he took the said loan as his children were demanding money from him. This revelation leads to another round of <em>tu tu main main</em>. In all this chaos, Amma feels left out. The grandchildren meanwhile are least bothered about the death of their grandfather and are having a fun reunion. She realises that it’ll be difficult for her to stay in the <em>haveli</em> all alone. Even if she chooses to stay with their sons, it seems that they won’t be ready to accept her. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
Seema Pahwa’s story is promising. The biggest strength is that it’s very relatable. Everyone has been in the situation depicted in the film. Hence, one can’t help but relate very well to a lot of happenings in the film. Seema Pahwa’s screenplay is however inconsistent. A few scenes and confrontations are very well thought of and also fleshed out. On the flipside, the film slips in the second half as crucial details are left out about some important characters. Seema Pahwa’s dialogues are realistic and situational. However, the funny dialogues of Prakash Bade jija ji (Brijendra Kala) seem out of place.
Seema Pahwa’s direction is quite neat in the first 30 minutes. The way she establishes the setting and the mood makes for an engaging watch. Some of the characters like that of Seema seem very interesting and a lot could have been done here. However, one wonders why Seema Pahwa left out the backstories of certain characters. This is especially in the case of Seema’s character. One fails to understand what exactly she did wrong with Neetu and his family. It’s not like she was the only daughter-in-law who stayed away from her in-laws. The rest of the <em>bahus</em> also got separated from Ramprasad and Amma. Also, towards the end, Seema’s change of heart makes one feel that she’ll ask Amma to stay with her. That’s what the build-up seemed like. When she doesn’t, one wonders why that is so. Probably, she had the same issues as other daughter-in-laws and was not ready to take the responsibility. But this bit should have been better explained. Meanwhile, Rahul (Vikrant Massey) lusting after Seema individually seems like a great idea but looks a bit forced. The final scene is heartening but comes too suddenly.
RAMPRASAD KI TEHRVI begins well. No time is wasted as Ramprasad passes away in the first scene itself. From here, it’s a breezy watch as all the madcap characters arrive and create madness. A few scenes stand out like the four brothers having drinks and expressing their long-suppressed anger. Also, the sequence where Amma hides behind a pillar and sees that everyone is having a gala time while she’s mourning the demise of her husband is very moving. Post-interval, the film gets too serious. Many who would go for the film after seeing the trailer and assuming that it’ll be a light-hearted film will be in for a surprise, or rather, shock.
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RAMPRASAD KI TEHRVI is laced with some fine performances. Naseeruddin Shah is dependable in the cameo. Supriya Pathak is the best part of the lot. One can feel the pain of her character. Konkona Sen Sharma is as expected quite excellent but is let down by weak characterization. Parambrata Chatterjee delivers a great performance. Vikrant Massey is excellent. Vinay Pathak (Pankaj), Manoj Pahwa (Gajraj) and Ninad Kamat (Manoj) enhance impact with the way they have exceled in their respective roles. Sadiya Siddiqui (Pratibha), Divya Jagdale (Sulekha) and Deepika Amin (Sushma) also do well but after a point, their gossiping seems repetitive. Anubha Fatehpura (Rani; badi jiji) is convincing while Sarika Singh (Dhaani; choti jiji) is very good in the scene where she speaks to Amma at night outside. Manukriti Pahwa (Bitto; who falls for Rahul) is quite lively. Brijendra Kala, Sawan Tank (Samay), Neivan Ahuja (Saksham; neighbour), Shikant Verma (Basant Chote jija ji), Yamini Dass (Mami ji), Vineet Kumar (Mama ji), Rajendra Gupta (Tauji who spoke English) and Mahesh Sharma (Vinod, who was with Tauji) are decent. Lastly, Sanah Kapur is quite memorable as the younger Amma.
Sagar Desai’s music is forgettable. <em>’Ek Adhoora Kaam'</em> registers as it comes at an interesting situation. The rest of the songs like <em>’Jo Ghum Hua Hai’, ‘Aisa Hai Kyun'</em> and <em>’Bulawaya Aaya Re'</em> do not leave a mark. Sagar Desai’s background score is subtle and well woven with the narrative.
Sudip Sengupta’s cinematography deserves praise. There are several long takes which are very well captured by the lensman. Darshan Jalan and Manish Tiwari’s costumes and Parijat Poddar’s production design are straight out of life. Dipika Kalra’s editing is fine but one wishes the flashback scenes of Seema and Nishant had got more screen presence
On the whole, RAMPRASAD KI TEHRVI has a very interesting story to tell but fails to make the desired impact due to a very weak second half. The film would face a tough time in cinemas and should have ideally released directly on an OTT platform.