DEVRAI- review

Language – Marathi
Director – Sumitra Bhave & Sunil Sukthankar
Cinematography – Debu Deodhar

Devrai means ‘the sacred grove’ in marathi. The concept of the sacred grove finds its place in many regions. In kerala they have the “Paamb Kaav”, which is infact a sacred grove offered to snakes. After declaring a piece of land as a “kaav” no cultivation or gathering is done there. Gradually the land is taken over by ant hills and then snakes.

PLOT OUTLINE – This is the story of Shesh, who is a schizophrenia patient and completely obssessed by devrai. So much so that his mind renders a whole devrai for him with mango trees and creepers anywhere, anytime. We in fact get inside his mind and can see his imaginations. The plot moves along the path of Shesh’s
recovery assisted by his sisters utmost care and his own inner will to be sane.

INKBLOT review –
I like films which have layers. Which convey a message subtly enough that the audience do not feel being force fed by the director. This film does that and more.

It tries to help people in understanding the idea that mental diseases like schizophrenia are very similar to physical ones in the fact that are curable and are caused by inconsistencies in the body. On a sidenote, I have read that the gene responsible for schezophrenia is tha same as that of high intelligence.

At another level it delves into one of the questions I had in mind for some time. The question as worded by me is – “The world consists of two kinds of people, sane and insane. Here sane and insane mean what they do in real world, the one
in majority think only their actions are sane and whoever strays from the norm is insane.
The question is what would happen if one day the number of insane people outnumbers that of sane.Of course we have to assume that the insane people think that the actions of ‘all’ their members is normal. What would happen than?”

Well it is more of a probable situation than a question, and the answer would be they would put the ‘sane people’ in the asylums.

The situation which i have worded with such difficulty is shown in the movie. Its not on the outter level but it is there.There is a scene where Shesh’s sister has just read a book on devrai and questions her husband if any of the things her brother says is wrong, about saving the trees etc..Also where the husband acknowledges the confusion after seeing the violence and senselessness in the news.

And off course their is the message to save the environment.

One thing i was really impressed was by the cinematography. In the scenes of his virtual world tha camera moves around chaotically like a lover’s fingers through her tresses. The camera goes down and gives a snake eye view, which reinforces the oneness that Shesh shares with devrai.Another thing i noticed was using mirror reflections throughout the movie to good effect.

The actor playing shesh does a wonderful job and his confusion can be seen even in his eyes. Sonali kulkarni has done a good job overall but I think at some points she has overdone the village belle in the city routine. Considering that they had lived in U.S for a while (if my memory is correct) and in pune for so many years, and the fact that her english is also good without any village accent.
Her husband has done a far better role. Gradually moving from the ‘irritated with brother in law’s behaviour’ to empathising with him.

Another thing which fascinated me was the portrayal of parvathi, the Devrai deity. She is shown as someone with great power, but distraught. WHile Shesh is
jealous of any men around parvathi, he also knows that she should not be dessecrated. His love for her has components of love to a mother as well as a lover.

emotional roller coaster

I am not talking about any relationship, but the Asian Film festival i had the opportunity to witness. They screened four 8 films a day, in two theatres simultaneously. I saw about 15 films in all and leaving 3-4 the rest where awesome. In fact it has inspired me to start a movie review blog. You can read it here.

visual snorting

And the only pain in seeing good films in a row is that it takes a big toll emotionally. One film would be very feel good while the next following it would be infinitely senti. I could say that my heart has been through a marathon.