Photo Prem Review: This Neena Kulkarni Starrer Takes Time To Click

Here’s our review of the Marathi film Photo Prem which streams on Amazon Prime Video. It stars Neena Kulkarni and is directed by Aditya Rathi and Gayatri Patel

5330 Reads |  

Photo Prem Review: This Neena Kulkarni Starrer Takes Time To Click

This is a brave film. Brave and slight. Or so it seems from the outside. A film about an average housewife, played by the redoubtable Neena Kulkarni, getting on in life suddenly comes up with a  throbbing fear:  there is  no  decent photograph of hers anywhere. What if tomorrow, or for that matter today, she dies? What would her family use  in the obituary?

This would hardly seem  like  a topic for a full-fledged  feature  film. I mean  talking for myself, once I am  gone  what  do I care what others  do with my  memory? But to Sunanda Kulkarni(the watchable  Neena Kulkarni) it’s a problem that keeps her restless awake, fidgety and anxious.

Not that anyone notices. Her  poor husband (Vikas  Hande) is  too engrossed  in the rituals  of day-to-day existence  to even notice how agitated  his wife is, and why. And even if she did  confide in her  husband, what would his reaction be?  I can think of several, none  of them  nice.

Photo Prem understands the rhythms of daily drudgery and how it can be erased in one  single moment when  the heart stops beating. But the mood of the mundane is way too  deeply entrenched in the narrative. We never get a sense of Sunanda despair, as her awareness of her desolation and mortality grow on her, the narrative seems more amused by her anxieties than  concerned.

Throughout the 90-minute  film we feel Sunanda will reach  that moment of self-awareness when something in her  mind will ….click(pun intended). Rather than wrap its head around Sundanda’s deeper dilemma, the narrative chooses to swim in shallow waters, concentrating more the hysteria around sudden deaths and  on that  one  decent picture of  Sunanda(in case….) rather than what that  picture represents  in her  mind(self-awareness, dignity,self-respect, a sense  of identity)?

 More than a study of an average housewife’s ordinary dreams, Photo Prem  “reads”(you can close your eyes and hear the plot since the dialogues revel in explanations)  like  Sunanda’s adventures in a photo frame. There are episodes in a rickety photo studio and in  a posh glamour studio . There is neighbouring girl who comes and clicks Sunanda’s pictures with an old  camera that Sunanda finds. There are endless  shots of Sunanda being snapped and being snapped at(by her  husband, neighbour, maid, random photographer, etc). 

Sadly we  never move to  the protagonist’s deeper problem. Neena Kukarni’s the sparkling presence and a  delightful househelp played by  Chaitrali Rode (though her sarees look too starched ) who bonds with Sunanda are the  only  reason to  say ‘Smile  Please; in this photo-generic misfire.

Image Source: Instagram/offichatarpatar, Amazon