Film gets praise for strong subject

Nathicharami sensitively explores female sexuality.

The fag end of 2018 saw two films talk about sex in contrasting manners. Amit Sharma’s ‘Badhaai Ho’, one of Bollywood’s runaway hits of the year, was a comedy drama about a middle-aged couple handling an uncomfortable situation when they expect their third child.

‘Nathicharami’, a Kannada film directed by Mansore, too has sex at its centre but the treatment is serious and straightforward. A story of a widow’s (masterfully performed by Sruthi Hariharan) sexual desires, ‘Nathicharami’ puts forward some uncomfortable truths.

After it’s world premiere at the Mumbai Film Festival, ‘Nathicharami’ wasn’t embraced as wholeheartedly as ‘Badhaai Ho’ by the mainstream Kannada audience. But Mansore is happy with the feedback after it’s screening at the Bangalore International Film Festival. He talks to Metrolife about the film.

Excerpts:   


Director Mansore

What triggered you to make Nathicharami?

This subject was in my mind for many months. It was triggered by the judgemental responses to social media posts by women that disturbed me. Also, Raj B Shetty’s ‘Ondu Motteya Kathe’ got me thinking. The film showed a man’s need for a companion. I wanted to tell a story from the woman’s point of view and show how society controls discussions on such important topics.

The film has a parallel track and a psychiatrist who is ‘different’. What was the process of writing this film?

I wanted a woman to write this film because I felt that would help us get closer to our idea. Parallel tracks provide different dimensions to a subject. So in contrast to a widow who is craving to fulfil her sexual desires, there is a wife who is unhappy about her sex life and marriage. Sandhya Rani (writer) did a really good job.   

We experimented with the psychiatrist’s character. It is inspired from Poornachandra Tejaswi’s lifestyle. We didn’t want the psychiatrist to stay in a room and mouth serious dialogues. Here, he is a nature lover and draws meanings from nature’s ways to understand human problems. Tejaswi’s Karvalo further helped us shape this character.   

Broken pot, broken tap, wind chimes or flowers, the use of symbolism is evident. Also, silence has prominence in Nathicharami...

I am an artist so I am very attached to images. Watching world cinema has helped me understand the power of metaphors. So I worked hard to let images convey the meanings. And silence has a powerful effect. That’s the reason the final 20 minutes in the film have just three to four dialogues.

Though the film talks about sex, the act itself is shown just once and that too towards the end...

It was intentional. I don’t have anything against intimate scenes in films but I didn’t want to show them here. My focus was on the ‘before and after’ of sex, the struggles of a person desperate for sex. It was also about an inner battle of a widow, still loyal to her husband despite wanting to fulfil her physical desires.  

Sruthi Hariharan was terrific in the lead role...

Whenever you speak to Sruthi, you sense great energy in her. She worked on the character for three months. Her performance increased the film’s popularity. Also, Sanchari Vijay, Balaji Manohar and Sharanya gave life to the characters.

Are you happy with the way it was received in the mainstream set up?

It’s tough to say why the film didn’t have a long run in theatres. Perhaps the timing of the release, one week after a big film like KGF (Chapter 1), wasn’t right. But people are interested in such subjects. Two weeks after its Netflix release, the platform told me that Nathicharami was in the trending list of Indian films; the second Kannada film there after Pawan Kumar’s ‘U Turn’. We also had to fight piracy. We removed five YouTube links and each of them had around one lakh views.

Response from the industry?

K M Chaitanya told me that it’s one of its kind in the Kannada industry. Yogaraj Bhat said I have touched a rare topic. Director PC Shekhar and cameraman Satya Hegde were also impressed. 

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Film gets praise for strong subject

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