Coping with death is a paradigm most filmmakers steer clear of, for fear of losing out on an audience and revenue.
Starring Irrfan Khan, Dulquer Salmaan and Mithila Palkar, the film ‘Karwaan’ is indeed like a breath of fresh air despite revolving around a theme as serious as death.
While Irrfan is undoubtedly one of the most phenomenal actors in the country, Dulquer Salmaan and Mithila Palkar have also proved their acting prowess and seeing the trio work their magic in the gripping trailer, many of us had eagerly been waiting for the film’s release.
A mix-up of dead bodies and a trip spanning many cities, Karwaan makes us ponder about the ephemeral nature of life, and how death can walk in unannounced at any point.
Unlike commercial films and television series, where death is often blown out of proportion through overtly melodramatic presentations, the character portrayed by Salman in the movie is not shown moping over the fact that his father has departed but instead quite naturally accepts the situation—which is precisely how it is in real life.
The director of the film, Akarsh Khurana, has quite realistically managed to capture these nuances along with sprinkles of situational comedy that Khan is known for, and effortlessly aces.
Death in Indian cinema has seldom been explored this way and except a few films that touch the theme ever so lightly, coping with death is a paradigm most filmmakers steer clear of, for fear of losing out on an audience and revenue.
Despite the limited range, we have picked a few Indian films that revolve around death and have normalised the idea of coping with it as life goes on, sometimes even taking a poetical narrative.
Check out these five films that will take you through gripping narratives while swimming through subjects like life and death.
A movie that gave Amitabh Bachchan the breakthrough he needed and a role forever immortalised by the legendary actor Rajesh Khanna, Anand poignantly takes one through the journey of a person who has accepted his approaching death and believes that every moment henceforth is a celebration. Successfully masking his sadness through humour and music, he goes the extra mile to help every single person touched by his presence, cope with the news about his inevitable end.
Anand’s story was undoubtedly way ahead of its time, which made it one of the best movies created in Bollywood.
2. Memories in March
Dealing with human loss and the way ahead for those bearing it, Memories in March is a multilingual film directed by Sanjoy Nag that stars Deepti Naval, Raima Sen, and the late director Rituparno Ghosh in titular roles.
After finding that her only son has died in an accident, the film depicts the shock that a mother initially undergoes after finding many revelations about her son’s life and goes on to show the various relationships that are formed in the aftermath of a tragic event of such finality.
Instead of a melodramatic and tear-jerking narrative, Waiting is a brilliant piece of work directed by Anu Manon that conveys an emotional story of two individuals from completely different walks of life, whose respective spouses have been hospitalised for almost similar conditions.
While the film’s protagonists are Naseeruddin Shah and Kalki Koechlin—two of the most seasoned actors in the country—the supporting cast also deserves to be praised and together, they carry forth the film quite efficiently. Shot almost entirely within the premises of a hospital, the lightness with which a theme like death is dealt with in the movie, keeps one glued to the screen till the very end.
Directed by veteran filmmaker Kamal, Perumazhakkalam (Heavy Monsoons), as the name suggests, is a rainfall of emotions that has been pictured brilliantly through changing phases of monsoon.
The Malayalam film opens with a tragic situation where one friend accidentally ends up killing his friend in a foreign land, and the only way of escaping capital punishment is to obtain a letter of pardon from the deceased’s wife.
Nagesh Kukunoor’s ‘Dor’ was the remake of the film, but as much as it critically acclaimed for its storyline and stellar performances, Perumazhakkalam, a heart-wrenching stories of two women—one on the verge of losing her husband while the other torn between grief, empathy and the fear of expulsion from her community, is an experience that one needs to immerse themselves in.
5. Mukti Bhavan
Narrating the story of a reluctant son who must take his father to Varanasi, where the latter insists on breathing his last and attain salvation, Mukti Bhawan isn’t a film about death, but of life and relationships that make us who we are, in a city that sometimes visualises death as part of its fabric and sometimes as a celebration. Brilliantly enacted by Adil Hussain and Lalit Behl, Mukti Bhavan interestingly falls under the comedy-drama genre despite being modelled on a theme like death.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)