Sumitra Bhave-Sunil Sukthankar, the director duo have handled social issues tactfully through their filmography including psychological issues in “Devrai” (Schizophrenia) and “Astu” (Alzheimer). The duo is back with a new subject and new ailment, depression in their latest offering. I’ll go with the word “offering” because at least to me the duo offers social subjects in a harsh realism (sometimes subtle yet hitting manner) in an appealing cinematic experience.
Kaasav means Turtle. This is a story of Niche/Manav (Alok Rajwade) who tries to commit suicide is rescued by Janaki (Irawati Harshe). Ironically, she too suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts and now works on Dattabhau’s (Dr. Mohan Agashe) Turtle Program. When Janaki and her driver Yadu (Kishor Kadam) save Manav, she gives a shelter by taking care of him. Subtle metaphors of Turtle works hand-in-hand with the story of shelling and opening, an important ailment of mental health is addressed convincingly.
The film is nuanced story-telling which deals sensitively with the issue of depression humanistic(ally). The range of human emotions considering mental health is limited- sulking, sudden outburst, loneliness, sadness, withdrawal and anti-socialism are some factors. In case of Manav, we firstly see him bewildered without any history of the character. The bewildered Manav is helped by Janaki who was once suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts finds him as a mirror image. The characters slowly starts holding the grip of the depth. The characters written are so close to the reality, Manav- a young vulnerable guy or an orphan kid or the driver Yadu, a common man with little knowledge about how to treat a patient like Manav.
Unfolds slowly through the cinematic excellence especially the analogies of environment. Oliver Ridley, an oldest specie found (older than Dinosaur) is juxtaposed with the case of Manav and Janaki. With the minimalist approach, the focus is only on two characters making the narrative smooth. Without any typical or rather stereotypical melodrama, the film comes directly on point. Simple in its approach, the fantastic human story with the help of environment is taken to a different level which left me speechless.
Dhananjay Kulkarni, the Cinematographer helps to provide the potential experience with the scenic and visually breathtaking cinematography- especially, when of the Turtle. Shot splendidly on the coastal region under the visually satisfying and beautiful world lies serious psychological issues. Edited (Mohit Takalkar) does a fine juxtaposing of environment and humanity, the pace is brisk. Though the camera work may at times look amateur but it never fails to amuse the story. At the high point of the film, “Lehar Samundar” song is mesmerizing, poetically justifying and catchy. The background score by Saket Kanetkar somehow reminded me of Argentinean composer Gustavo Santaolalla.
Possibly, the film could have gone haywire if the actors were incapable but it doesn’t. Alok Rajwade is convincing with his emotional tussling act while Irawati Harshe does a phenomenal job. For me, the show stealer(s) is Kishor Kadam, such a great actor of brilliant caliber and Omkar Ghadi, who plays an orphan kid.
Thankfully, mental illness is now openly known and 10th October is considered as World Mental Health Day, perfect timing. Explore the film yourself. Confidently portrays what it sets out to, slowly like turtle and shells the mind soothingly.
Release: 6 October, 2017
Director: Sumitra Bhave-Sunil Sukthankar
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