Debutante director Sandeep Sawant’s Marathi masterpiece “Shwaas” was a welcome change for the ailing Marathi movie industry. At the core of the movie is the basic human emotion shared between the grandpa Vichare (Arun Nalavade) and his grandson Parashuram (Ashwin Chitale), and how they come to terms with an inevitable anticlimax in life. The grandson is taken to the city for an eye checkup, where he is diagnosed to suffer from a rare retinal cancer. The boy’s life depends on surgically removing the eyes, thereby nullifying the chance of even transplantation. The movie often takes an unexpected detour and goes beyond the normal regimen, like where Sandeep Sawant bestows the most difficult task to the doctor and the social worker to communicate the news to the child.

The movie evokes a strong feeling of helplessness in containing the viewer’s true feelings, like the scene where the rural patriarch Vichare stands at Dr. Sane’s chamber door – tension, worry and panic writ large over his tired eyes and his little grandson waiting restlessly in the hospital room of a big alien city.

The director has in this movie, a foolproof plot to elicit every bit of sympathy from the viewer. The story teller’s vision transcends the immediate sentimentality of the situation and makes the film goers think about life and the bounties it has in offer to the so called lucky souls.

How worthy is every second in life? What makes it special? Is it the way we see things or the way we the utilize time given to live, that makes life fruitful? On an immediate level, on how a seven year old boy is prepared to face the impending blindness.

The film is completely shot out of studio floor and so resolve an age old dilemma in cinema. The hospital and the situations are all in authentic locations. Once in place, the characters automatically appear to be an integral part of the narrative. The people in this intimate epic showcase how real the reality dramas could be if carried forward in a poignant manner with one’s heart and soul set in the same.

The way in which the idyllic scene of the village is juxtaposed with the grim claustrophobic scenes of the city hospital reminds poetic grace of the master film maker Satyajit Ray.

The simple and straight narrative is suffused with spoonfuls of symbolism like the space where sparks fall to ground as grandfather, grandson and the relative stride fearfully in the city and the scene in which the moon is covered by the cloud as all hopes of retaining the boy’s eyesight vanish for the grandfather. Such scenes ignite our minds, which otherwise would have been parched watching death like drama having morose dimensions.

“Shwaas” is a brave attempt to showcase life and the best it has to offer, and how not to lose strength in adversity. Also a message to the lucky ones to treasure the subtlest of moments that life offers.

“Shwaas” makes a humble beginning to showcase true Indian cinema to the world’s panorama. Language is never a barrier for a true cinematic experience. I, a non-Marathi got thoroughly engaged, tears brimming and still enjoying and appreciating deep in my heart, what true cinema is, and also happy that good cinema and gripping screenplays aren’t dead as yet.

Regil Krishnan

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