“You do not have to do it after I die”
He had told my mother during one of their late morning tête-à-tête after a round of household chores. My paternal grandfather had no second thoughts on repudiating some of the customs that did not make sense to him. This was during the period when he was diagnosed of prostate cancer in his seventies, he was being treated for the same and palliative care was all that could be given after the surgery which he had undergone. It was all seeded in his bones and lungs, the cancer cells and of all that mattered to him was his ‘THITHI’ for reasons known only to him; he did not want us to perform the ritual every year. I must say he was very opinionated. Nevertheless his children do it every year now; if he is watching us from somewhere I am sure nothing else will be making him more furious!
Why I brought this up today was because I happened to watch a Kannada movie by the same name last evening with my parents so I couldn’t help but reminisce about it. While some call the movie a dark comedy with unpretentious frivolity, there is something esoteric about it. This was beyond all the brouhaha that Kannada movies are receiving these days, and I am glad I have watched all of them in the theatre. Nothing feels better than watching our fellow Kannadigas put our cinema and our land on the world map.
I am not going to let off any details here because this is not a movie review, this is about the feeling it left me with after I walked out of the theatre, the smile it brought on my face when a group of kids who were walking down the stairs started dancing in front of the theatre screen when the closing credits was on with the orchestra music. I do not know what they understood of the movie but this was a good sign. Watching good cinema is as important as playing a good game or reading a good book, I am glad that with movies like these we can do this today.
Century Gowda, Gadappa, Thammana, Abhi, Cauvery, the shepherds, the dealer in the Xerox shop, the kids playing tiger and sheep after school, the money lender lady in the arrack shop, the dancing old man in the death procession and a dozen other characters portrayed in the movie are all around us. And therefore people of this land connect to the story. What hit me more is the ease with which issues like patriarchy, property, religious beliefs, complex family matters, teenage sexuality, loans, bribes, support of the neighbourhood and all the rustic village life are portrayed in every scene. All one needs is an observer’s eye and a listener’s ear. See through the scenes and listen in between the dialogues, especially Gadappa’s and your movie watching of ‘THITHI’ is complete.
After the movie was over, when Appa was still on his seat hooked to the screen.
“Eli, thithi oota hakalla illi theatre alli!”
[Get up, they are not going to give you lunch now in the theatre!]
So said my Amma with her natural brevity. The lady next to me smirked [The movie by the way is a feast!]. Miffed by the force Appa decided to take his own way out of the place, as we were walking ahead I realized he is not with us. I turned back and remarked...
“Appa elli Amma?”
[Where is he?]
“Yen nin problemmmu….your Appa must be gone somewhere” she said, as cool as a cucumber.
“Like Gadappa?” I added.
Well, this is what ‘THITHI’ did to me.