Film : Vihir – The Well (2009)
Director : Umesh Kulkarni
Language : Marathi
Still water runs deep, well that’s an apt expression when it comes to describing Umesh Kulkarni’s Tour de force “Vihir”.
But before I could say anything about the film, let me make this clear, Vihir is not a typical commercial potboiler and although Vihir is essentially a ‘lost and found’ story it is certainly not in any way synonymous to the renowned Bollywood expression.
Vihir is a coming of age drama about two cousins in their adolescence, Sameer and Nachiket who are also best friends. When Sameer and Nachiket come down to their ancestral home in their village, they often go for a swim in a nearby well. Sameer is an excellent swimmer, while Nachiket requires a wooden buoy which he ties around his waist to keep him afloat and while they swim or troll around the countryside, they talk about life and their perception towards life. While the elder cousin Nachiket speaks about his angst, his dreams, his detachment from family, his petty existence, and the idea of living life with freedom, the younger cousin is often confused at the former’s talks and fears if Nachiket might flee from home. Well Nachiket does sets free, and from there begins (in quite an allegorical manner) the game of hide and seek.
Apart from Nachiket and Sameer, one character that stands witness with its flexible characteristics to each frame is the ever sublime and unfathomable – Water. (And ‘the Well’ being a synecdochical device)
The performances are exemplary as is every character etched from earthy reality. The actors are so natural, you almost feel like landed in their home listening to their conversation in the rustic language that they speak. The camera moves across the house like a character and while outdoors it is never shy to give a panoramic point of view across the pastoral landscapes of Maharashtra, it is needless to say – the cinematography is impeccably beautiful. The Music creates an atmosphere that fits perfectly in the philosophical universe of Vihir and beautifully fills in the spaces where for minutes there are no dialogues.
Vihir deals with the questions of life and death and creates layers of questions through one’s mind. Vihir will make you nostalgic if you ever visited you ancestral home in vacations, also it’ll take you back to those difficult adolescent days when you tried to make sense of everything around you and yet only found yourself even more confused. Girish Kulkarni (a regular with Umesh Kulkarni who also plays the alcoholic uncle) and Sati Bhave’s tale is a retrospect of those good old days and an introspection on a lot of things about yourself.
Umesh Kulkarni’s Vihir is a must-watch and definitely a movie that stays with you long after you’ve watched it.