“Anumati”, directed by Gajendra Ahire, was the winner of Best Feature Film at the 2013 New York Indian Film Festival, as well as Vikram Gokhle winning for Best Actor for his performance as the main character, Ratnakar.
Loss of a loved one is very difficult for many to undergo, and it is no surprise. The process can be heartwrenching, watching one’s health deteriorate in front of one’s eyes, witnessing the pain and struggle firsthand. Alternatively, the shock of a sudden loss can thrust one into an alternate reality, with the defense mechanisms of denial and rationalization creating a false world that fends off the truth from sinking in. In the time afterwards, grief and bereavement must be had, and there are no guidelines that mark reactions as “appropriate” or “befitting”; reactions are individual and grief overcome in one’s own way. The film “Anumati” attempts to explore these stages through a compassionate story of love and loss, and the struggle of a husband to cope with a dying wife, not quite ready to let go.
The portrayal of the main character, Ratnakar, is one of a man truly unable to come to terms with the reality of his wife’s health, and his inability to make a rational decision of withdrawing care begins to take a toll on his family. His relations with his son and daughter are explored through their differing reactions to his requests, and showcase the spectrum of ways of coping. Though Vikram Gokhle is emotive enough to convince the viewer of his sadness, his demeanor at times seemed disjointed, almost dazed. However, this may be enough to further convince the viewer of the disheveled state he has been thrust into as a result of his predicament.
While the viewer has no choice but to share in the struggles of Ratnaker through compelling acting and character interactions, the flow of the movie as directed seemed a bit flat. The tone was somber from beginning to end with few moments where the mood fluctuated drastically enough to indicate any impending events. I felt this took away from the experience of watching a movie of this sort, where the viewer not only wants to feel for and relate to the character, but stands to gain something in perspective. The story, while told from a very realistic standpoint, could have been written to encompass a broader spectrum of emotion and reaction than was on display while providing more uplifting moments to cradle the spirits of the viewers in an otherwise downcast story.
Overall, “Anumati” does tell a compelling story of a man undergoing loss, and in a very relatable manner. We can all imagine ourselves in Ratnakar’s shoes, his grief, his decisions to reach out to his children and his childhood friend for support, and the pain he suffers through the process. Gajendra Ahire has done a good job of telling this story, in the hopes of reaching out to the minds and hearts of everyone who watches this film.