By Aditi Patwardhan. Posted on December 22, 2015
Thithi opens with the hundred and one year old 'Century' Gowda whiling away time by calling names and getting into petty quarrels with the passers by. An age old guy, who has been there forever, nobody seems to mind him a bit. It is when 'Century' Gowda passes away, things start to unfold- his grandson Thamanna is worried about the piece of land that he has left behind, his octogenarian son Gadappa has nothing to do with anything whatsoever and his great grandson Abhi is too busy flirting with a shepherd's daughter to overlook the proceedings for the upcoming thithi, the 11th day ritual after death.
Raam Reddy’s debut feature Thithi is a dark comedy revolving around three generations of a family and their different approaches towards life. Capturing the span of 11 days in the lives of Gadappa, Thamanna and Abhi, the film narrates a light-hearted, yet deep story of attitudes and life choices of theses males belonging to three different generations, each having an entirely different take on life. With non-professional actors in lead roles, the film has a startling authenticity, and paints an intriguing and realistic picture of life in rural Karnataka.
'Thithi' director Raam Reddy
Though the film revolves around the death of the 101 year old patriarch of this family, Thithi, in fact, speaks about the fluid nature and the spirit of life, treating death in the most matter-of-fact way. For someone who has lived a long, healthy and fulfilling life, death is not necessarily a tragedy, but a simple, meaningful and inevitable event. Death is one of the events in the villages, which sees a lot of activity and frenzy, not just in the family, but in the entire village. The film captures this close-knit system of an Indian village spot on. Instead of the film revolving around death, death simply becomes the driver for the narrative, which revolves around the lives and desires of those who are left behind.
The character of Gadappa, who has renounced the worldly life and simply roams around the fields drinking and smoking bidis, is the most interesting of the lot. Reddy, while talking at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, said that Gadappa is his favourite character too, because however whimsical and weird he seems, he has his own philosophy of life and is quite interesting.
While most films begin with an idea, a concept or a story-line, Thithi began with the location. Reddy found the germ for the film when he visited his friend Eregowda to his village in the Mandya district and both of them decided to write a film based on this village and keeping these real-life characters at the centre. The film then evolved into a feature plot, where Eregowda, who is born and brought up in the village has put all his life experiences and observations into the script, which makes it so rustic, authentic and thoroughly enjoyable. The film first came to attention when it was selected in NFDC Film Bazaar's Work In Progress Lab, and later went on to win two awards at the prestigious Locarno Film Festival. After having its Indian premiere at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, it is still enjoying its festival run.
'Thithi' tells the story of men from three different generations
Like he stumbled upon Thithi, Reddy found filmmaking while experimenting with the camera. An enthusiastic photographer and writer, he made quite a few short films on his own before going to the Prague Film School to learn the craft. While his short film called Ika (Feather) received critical acclaim, he has also published a novel titled It’s Raining in Maya.
A film of its own kind, Thithi, has something for everyone. The playfulness of the film would make it an enjoyable family watch, and bodes well for the film, when it does release in Indian theatres. While talking about the humour in his film, Reddy says quite aptly in an interview, "Personally, I feel that art can often fall into the trap of taking itself too seriously, and while there are many subjects that genuinely warrant seriousness, many subjects can also be treated playfully without weakening their depth or intention, and in some cases, even strengthen them. Thithi is perhaps one such case."