Director: Neeraj Ghaywan
Cast: Richa Chadda, Shweta Tripathi, Vicky Kaushal, Sanjay Mishra
Devi (Richa Chadda) finds herself in a strange, helpless situation, thanks to her one ‘indulgence’ with the man she was attracted to. Her father, Vidyadhar Pathak (Sanjay Mishra), a small-time shopkeeper selling goods used for last rites of dead people, is most embarrassed by his daughter’s ‘immoral’ act, but ironically compromises on his own morality, when it comes to saving her honour. On the same ghat runs a parallel story of budding love between poetry-loving Shalu Gupta (Shweta Tripathi) and a passionate, ambitious engineering student Deepak (Vicky Kaushal). Deepak belongs to the Dom community, which is in charge of burning pyres on the ghat, while Shalu comes from an upper caste family.
The three young characters in the film — Devi, Shalu and Deepak — are special because they outwardly seem like small town people desperately caught in the archaic, traditional ways of the society that they belong to. As the story unfolds, you realise with pleasure that these youngsters armed with quiet confidence, shun caste and gender stereotypes in their own unique ways, without being dramatically rebellious or raising unnecessary rubble. The film is more of an emotional journey. One moment you are facing the ultimate and humbling truth about death and the next, you are re-introduced to life as some of the most beautiful poems by a few of the celebrated poets of the country are intertwined with the dialogues.
The former, especially, surprises with his nuanced and absolutely believable performance. Richa had a difficult role to play and as expected of her, she largely does a great job of it. But at times, one feels that her performance is a bit too internalised and perhaps a flicker of obvious emotion might have worked better under certain circumstances. Mishra is brilliant. A gutsy debut by Ghaywan, who dives deep into the subject in hand and comes up with a little gem. Sensitive writing by Varun Grover makes it more valuable.