While Disney-Hotstar continues to promote films with A-listers in the cast, a little gem like Shraddha gets submerged in the brouhaha. Sad, because here is a film that pleads for, no demands just 20 minutes of your time, and richly earns it by using every precious second to make a thoughtful statement on life. Rather, on death. Which is really the other side of the existential coin.
Set in a scenic ashram where miracle healing is punctuated by daily mesmeric sermons offered by a charismatic Baba, Shraddha questions the age-old tussle between blind faith and rational science with the gentleness of a frail tune being played on the flute. There are just three principal actors in the film. The redoubtable Vikram Gokhale stands tall as a God-like faith healer who needs some serious healing. Gokhale reminded me of Neeraj Kaba from Ship Of Theseus.
There is a shocking moment in the narrative when the Guruji is literally spat upon by his co-star Anshuman Jha who represents the gnawing rage of the rationale mind determined to demolish all remnants of superstition and blind faith. Vikram Gokhale actually flinches as Anshuman performs the ultimate act of humiliation. They are both actors who can lift the spirits of a script. Shraddha soars, thanks to these two actors and a script that constantly questions the dimensions of faith and science without getting judgmental in the process.
A third character a frail pretty bhakt of the Guru in spotless white, played by Vinati Makinjany will stay with you after this short film with long legs has played outs its karmic message.
Fragile but firm in its faith in the power of cinema to heal a fractured tormented society, Shraddha brings significant directorial talent to the fore. We will hear a lot more about Jasraj Padhye in the times to come. The best compliment that can be paid to Shradha is, why a short film when this has enough dramatic conflict for a full feature film?
And a question to Disney-Hotstar: Why subject such a laudable film to a quick death?
Shraddha directed by Jasraj Padhye gets 3 stars.
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