Ritu Malayalam Movie ReviewFeature Film
Shyamaprasad's Ritu is a sensitive, melancholic portrayal of tumultuous emotions that ravage three young minds basking on the pinnacle of success. It is an engrossing, intricate slice-of-life that deftly captures the nuances of growing up together and finally growing apart.
Sharath (Nishan) is a techie who dreams of a life beyond the syntax on his monitor. Aspiring to pen a book some day, he has all his hopes pinned on his childhood friends Varsha (Rima) and Sunny (Asif), as he returns home after a brief stint of three years in the US. The once inseparable trio joins hands together once again, but as their fingers gradually drift away, Sharath realizes that the times have changed, and so have seasons and hearts.
Ritu is a tremendously sad tale that undertakes a refreshingly tender treatment of diverse themes such as the certainty of transition, the dashing of young fantasies and above all the incessant flow of life. It talks of a generation that has everything laid out on one palm and literally nothing on the other. Juggling between the two, they find themselves pushed down into an emptiness that gradually starts to choke them to death.
Joshua Newtonn's script has plenty of emotional subtext that is engaging enough, moving by design and totally involving without being overly persuasive, with magical touches of a romance hovering all over. With an unhurried narrative, he takes us on an agreeable journey along a pathway strewn all over with flickering joys, shattered reveries, suppressed sobs and muffled sighs.
There aren't many among us who would clamber up a mountain of losses, only to deliberately let go. It takes immense courage to wipe the mirror clean of those blotches called memories and start afresh. Thus the best moment in Ritu transpires when Sharath looks forward to a new day, breaking away the shackles of those reminiscences and letting loose all the hurt, all those regrets and all those vagrant dreams.
At some point midway into the film, Varsha nonchalantly speaks into her cell phone under a hoarding that proclaims 'Only a lucky few will get to live here. Life is unfair, isn't it?' A reverberation of Pessoan notions and the deadness of life in The Book Of Disquietude, the argument is further accentuated through another remark that sees romance and revolution as mere arrangements of convenience.
The torrential rain that storms down when Sunny in a depressed stupor wallows into the middle of the lake, brushes past the glass panes of the Technocity as Sharath gazes into the darkness beyond the floundering drops in silence, lost in thoughts. Later on, it blurs his vision yet again, as he picks up the remnants of a lost love and dejectedly drives out into the stubborn shower, the downpour indifferently streaming down the car panes.
Ritu isn't really scared to aim its darts straight at the ethical policing, but the film is certainly not doctrinaire; in fact, it goes about its business with such casualness that it emerges neither preachy nor hypercritical. Like when you get to see Varsha having a whale of a time making an elaborate choice from the available condom brands, even as a flustered pharmacist hastily wraps them all up. Or when the three of them go for a thump-trick in a locked up car, that soon has the moral cops coming knock-knock at the doors in curiosity.
The proverbial damsel who would wait for her knight to return is nowhere in sight in Shyamaprasad's nostalgia-driven friendship tale. Varsha has no qualms of 'having had some fun' while her beau was away. 'I thought you were having fun too,' she shrugs. She refuses to fit herself into the conventional mould, as does Sunny, who's gay, thankfully seen for once with none of the trappings associated with the archetype.
It so happens that the night turns out to be every bit of a stunning spectacle in Shyamaprasad's films. It isn't really the first time that Shyam makes you wish the sun would set (Ore Kadal, 2007), and I'm yet to come across more splendid shots of spurts of intense color as the night lights blur into one another; blue, green, yellow and red. Shyam Dutt is at his creative best here; the urban landscape presents as many marvelous contours before him as the lush greenery and the tranquil lake.
An appealing young cast that comprises of Nishan, Asif and Reema comes up with top-notch, honest, sophisticated and unaffected performances. The supporting cast is well played from top to bottom, with everyone chipping in their bit to this fantastic ensemble.
Ritu oscillates between the past and the present and dwells on the existential dilemma of life. Undoubtedly one of the best films of the year, Ritu is skillfully directed, scripted, acted and shot.
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