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For Real review: Interesting story, disappointing end

For Real review: Interesting story, disappointing end

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 17/5

Friday 17 September 2010

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Movie Title

For Real

Director

Sona Jain

Star Cast

Sarita Chaudhury, Sameer Dharmadhikari, Zoya Hassan, Adil Hussain

It?s a spooky world that we witness through the eyes of a child. Six-year-old Shruti isn?t happy to see her mother Priya (Sarita Chaudhury - KamaSutra, Mississippi Masala) return from a Shimla trip. She?s sure that this short-haired version of her mother is actually an alien. We can sense a simmering tension between the parents as well.

Then on, we?re shown the mother?s behaviour oscillating between the cold and suspect. Shruti, meanwhile, has flashbacks of staccato images that disturb her: the mother crying, the father screaming, and the mother visiting her in dreams.

A psychiatrist family friend (Sameer Dharmadhikari, excellent) talks to Shruti. Turns out an old fight has led to her belief that her real mother is never coming back, and this is an alien sent to take care of her. Sadly, the whole doesn?t sum up.

The back-story is like a flat punch-line to a great story build-up. The altercations between Shruti?s parents are reflective of modern-day dilemmas. The mother has done what most Indian women do - sacrifice careers, follow their husband?s job transfers, cook, clean and look after the home and kids. Except that she had dreamt her life differently.

When Priya questions why her dreams had to be sacrificed - her husband doesn?t understand the fuss. He had assumed that she would adopt his goals as her own, forgetting that she was an ambitious musician and singer when they first met.

Priya suffers the extreme frustration of talent that?s been left no outlet. She grapples to live a life without passion, and spends 10 years of marriage cooking, cleaning, and parenting. As her music room remains unattended and gathering cobwebs, she falls into a deep depression.

The ending of the film is disappointing, for after showing us a side to Priya?s predicament, it doesn?t show us an answer.

Still, the film does inspire one to think from a child?s perspective, folding as they do reality with a pinch of imagination.

The film is an attempt to show how the complicated world of adults has an effect on the kids. But where is the novelty in saying that? The world of adults will always be strife with complications; children will always be witness to their parents losing their temper, screaming, and breaking things. Sometimes grown-ups can be really childish and the children uncharacteristically wise. It?s all ok. Worse things happen.

In the end, you do feel for little Shruti?s worry that her mother has gone away and that she?s living with an alien; but you know she?ll be fine.

Again you?re cautious to side with Priya because she?s still ditzy about her future, after demanding a separation. Her plan of yanking the kids away from India to a new country, new school, after she lands some kind of a job, and finds an apartment somewhere (she has a month to do all of this) sound far more fantastical than little Shruti?s hallucinations.

The performances are noteworthy. Zoya Hassan gives a wonderful performance as the troubled and also troubling Shruti. Hassan?s eyes flash sadness, hatred, and innocence, as the character travels a complex range.

Sarita Chaudhury is honest in her rendering of Priya, never trying to soften her character for palatability. The accent is questionable though, as we are made to understand that London-based Priya has been in India for 10 years.

Adil Hussain is superb as the self-centred husband, who also has a sensitive side. Sameer Dharmadhikari is marvellous as the family friend, and is particularly delightful in the picnic sequence with Shruti.

Writer-director Sona Jain?s film shows how children might react to the world of grown-ups. But that shifts the blame entirely on the adults. Are we supposed to feel angry about Priya demanding a better life for herself where her ambitions are also included? Are we to say she should have never left for the self-healing trip to Shimla that made her child feel abandoned?

For Real is commendable for its inclusion of a child?s perspective. But the film needs to give the grown-ups a break as well.

Rating: 2 stars

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