Tathagat (Movie Review)

Manav Kaul bravely explores renunciation.

Manav Kaul, the director and writer of Tathagat has refused to answer any questions. The audience is free to draw their conclusions from what he has to say or not.

If you've seen any of Manav Kaul's work, you're already aware of his singular approach to filmmaking. While some filmmakers and audience members believe the term "mainstream" to mean "childish and mindless," this is not the case in his book. His memorable roles in Albert Pinto Ko Gusa Kyon Ata Hay, Wazir, and Nail Polish, demonstrated his versatility.

In Kaul's films, there is more art for the sake of art. The disappearance of a father puts the survival of two mountain children.

Buddhists refer to Buddha and Buddha-like qualities as Tathagat. Kaul knows that it is not all bliss and no struggle when it comes to an ascetic life. To avoid or deny this aspect of spiritual and religious icons, believers deny the human propensity for perfection.

Tathagat's Baba has a flaw (Harish Khanna). In self-imposed deprivation, he is sharing a spare room with a disciple (Ghanshyam Lalsa). One day, a letter disrupts their peaceful Himalayan existence. The letter triggers memories of his younger self (Himanshu Bhandari), and Tathagat unfolds as a dialogue between the older man (Anupam Kher) and his younger self (Himanshu Bhandari). Mausi (Savita Rani), a conscience-like figure, serves as a constant reminder of these encounters.

Renouncing one's faith has long been regarded as a means of attaining godhood. Monks and nuns are the most restrictive. They are considered "holy" and "religious" by most major world religions, even when such a story is not found in their scriptures.

Renunciation may be used as a means of evading reality. It is debatable whether this is a form of asceticism. Is true abstinence possible in light of our human limitations?

Kaul, the film's author, and the director do not address or clarify these points. The audience is free to draw their conclusions from what he has to say or not.

Tathagat is a cause for celebration, even without debating its content. It serves as a reminder of the challenges that quality independent cinema faces even in the OTT era.

The majority of the cast has theatre training. In the credits, Sayoni's name is misspelled as "Sayoni," and she co-directed Article 15. Tathagat is taken aback by their display.

Similar to Kaul's protagonist, the film's apparent calm conceals an onslaught of existential anxieties. Between Baba and the child who was, a conversation reminiscent of Paulo Coelho takes place (and still is).

Tathagat brings up several provocative points. It is a meditative experience at its core.

Rating 4/5 Stars

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