A couple of years ago, I happened to stumble on what turned out to be the Best Marathi film I had ever watched. The film was Court directed by Chaitanya Tamhane which was probably the best film I had watched in a while then. And this weekend, I have just finished watching the Marathi film ‘The Disciple’ which marks another outing by the same director. Does he manage to weave his magic yet again, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
The Disciple marks the story of a classical singer and his daily struggles associated with it. The story is not your typical take on the struggles of artists, this is more associated with artists that are on the fringes of the cultural society – in this case Classical Music. Like it was in Court, the screenplay allows you to sink your teeth into the drama and thereby absorb it. The non hurried pace works beautifully here as you carefully observe the journey of our protagonist amidst his principles which were a part of his upbringing. And so you witness the background he comes from, his ambitions and some of the shackles that have him chained up. All of this forms his heartbreaking journey that almost forces you to think of so many such artists that spend a lifetime due to the love of art without any monetisation and little to no recognition. The comparisons made here with other people in the field is beautifully and accurately depicted. And that last bittersweet image stays with you long after the movie has ended. This is masterful storytelling of the highest order.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational that often engage you in meaningful conversations and a few life lessons too(narrated by Maai). Since this story had a backdrop of music, it had to be good and the use of classical music is beautiful and sends you in a trance. The way it has been designed(sound design), it makes you want to fall in love with it and also pay your due respect to such artists who have been performing for years. Director Chaitanya Tamhane yet again scores with this gem. His storytelling technique is simple yet effective. He likes to create images that are visually striking and impactful at the same time. He is one of the many filmmakers that needs to be celebrated and preserved for such quality cinema.
I believe Chaitanya always prefers to work with non actors. And the thing with non actors is that they are as natural as they are in real life. They create magic more often than not and here they follow the same suite. All performances are simply outstanding and make you want to watch them more. Arun Dravid ji, Deepika Bhide Bhagwat, Kiran Yadnyopavit, Ashwini Kulkarni all are simply beautiful to witness. Aditya Modak as Sharad delivers such a heartfelt performance. I looked up wikipedia which told me that he is a singer and Chartered Accountant and now an actor. What a stunning and towering performance as a character that required him to internalise and feel each beat. Distinction marks in the acting department.
The Disciple is a heartfelt and intimate ode to many artists that are on the fringes of our cultural society. This is a masterpiece you cannot miss. Available on Netflix and Highly Highly Highly Recommended.