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‘Thithi’ Review: A Film So Real That You Could Reach Out To Feel The Characters

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By Bhanvi Satija:

Deaths and funerals are invariably associated with grief and despair. As far as feature films go, deaths of a character are part of the plot to trigger an expected set of tears in its audience. And yet, in reality, more often than not one can hear relatives whispering about how much Sheetal scored in her Board exam or what was Mrs. Sharma’s last holiday destination, during a funeral ceremony – where some mourn and the others comfort and yet others, are only there for free food. Would you expect a film, however, to depict any of this? ‘Thithi’, a recently released Kannada film, delineates the reality of death as it is – far removed from the vivid description of emotions of grief on a character’s death; instead portraying with sheer honesty what a Thithi ceremony (funeral ceremony, performed on the 11th day after someone’s death) would look like.

thithi
It is a nonchalant story revolving around the lives of three generations of sons after their patriarch’s death. Like father, like son – an age old idiom, meaning that the son tends to do what his father did before him; ‘Thithi’, however, proves just the opposite. Century Gowda (Singri Gowda), so named because he lives past 100, is a man known in the local area both for the good and the bad deeds. His daily schedule involves sitting outside his home and passing remarks at the villagers passing by – but one fine morning, as he moves to the backyard to relieve himself – he dies a sudden death.

The reactions that follow from the three generations after him, bring about the stark contrast between the fathers and sons – while Gadappa (the eldest son) shrugs a ‘no big deal’ to the news, Thamanna (Gadappa’s son) instantly thinks of the land that Gadappa has now inherited, while Abhi (Gadappa’s grandson) is barely shown to care.

Gadappa, is an old man himself who wanders warily about the village, knocking down bottles of Tiger Brandy and playing a self-invented game of tiger-sheep with the village children. Thamanna, is a family man with responsibilities, and as the name suggests has a lot of desires, mostly materialistic. The grandson, Abhi is a carefree young boy who likes to roam around with friends, gamble away his father’s money and during the course of the movie, chases a shepherdess.

Set in the village of Nodekopplu in Karnataka, which is the hometown of the film’s co-writer Eregowda, ‘Thithi’ develops around the grand thithi ceremony of Century Gowda, the responsibility of which is on Thamanna’s (over)burdened shoulders, since Gadappa seems to be least interested in performing any rituals, or for that matter, anything else.

The unlike father, unlike son characteristics of these men evolve throughout the movie, gracefully capturing the estrangement that these pair of fathers and sons feel from each other. Gadappa and Thamanna share a relationship only because of the family land in Gadappa’s name. While Gadappa is annoyed with the constant requests of his son to come to the office with him, Thamanna doesn’t understand the nomadic nature of his father who refuses to officially transfer the family land to his name, ultimately forcing him to adopt desperate (illegal) measures to do so. Abhi also shares a relationship with his father that is mixed with feelings of carelessness and the fear of getting beaten up. And as Gadappa’s relationship with Century Gowda is concerned, he narrates it himself to a deeply engrossed audience in his matter-of-factly tone – which is in sharp contrast to the tragic content of the story being narrated.

Throughout the movie, the story of these three men runs almost in isolation from each other. These lives come together, and so does the whole village, on the day of Century’s Thithi ceremony – when Thamanna and Gadappa’s plans go haywire and Abhi seems to be the only one getting what he wants. ‘Thithi’ is unlike the conventional escapist feature films; it is real, so real that most of its cast is made up of actual village people playing themselves. Apart from the strong male characters that the movie features, it has some interesting female characters to look forward to – the abusive wife of Thamanna’s neighbour, a scary moneylender, Thamanna’s wife, and Cauvery, the shepherdess whom Abhi is after. The satirical undertone and the subtle humour of the film are sure to keep you engrossed in the movie for its entire duration.

‘Thithi’ has been internationally acclaimed and has won several awards including the Swatch Best First Feature (Locarno International Festival), the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Kannada, plus several others at the Mumbai Film Festival, Pune Film Festival, Bengaluru International Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival and a few more. The director of the film, Raam Reddy, is a debutant and yet, his style of filmmaking is being described as new-age, and with a hint of Emir Kusturica’s spirit and style. It’s evident that the film is no ‘Dabbang’, or ‘Dilwale’ and might not even land in the 100/300/500 crore bunch of movies that we all have been spending our precious money on. However, it’s definitely worth a shot.

The movie displays characters that are you and I in every form, any of us could be Thamanna or Abhi or Cauvery – characters that are so realistic that one could reach out and feel them. The story captures the contrasts of the three generations, bringing to light possible reasons of why one generation fails to understand the other. It puts out the social order of the village as it is – an order dominated by men, in which women struggle to find their space. It beautifully breaks one’s expectations from a conventional cinematic feature and yet manages to heartily entertain its audience. It represents life and its characters as they are, for who they are and there is very little room for you to escape reality when you enter the hall this time. If you are wondering that language could be a barrier, it most definitely is not – for the film comes with English subtitles.

In a cinematic world of misconstrued representations, films like ‘Thithi’ are of utmost importance – what they need are not wonderful reviews by cinephiles, but an audience that appreciates the movie and the makers.

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  1. Shankar Aithal

    I believe that Thithi portrays a universal truth that of generational gap. The last statement is really telling.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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