Ringan movie review: A warm and innocent quest for spirituality
Director: Makarand Mane
Cast: Shashank Shende, Sahil Joshi
Debutante director Makarand Mane brings a story of hope, courage, and spirituality embedded within the daily struggles of a debt-ridden Maharashtrian farmer in his Marathi film Ringan or The Quest. The 2016 National Award-winning film hits theatres on Friday.
The release of Ringan is quite timely as protests by farmers demanding loan waiver and better prices for their produce have hit the heartland farming states of Maharashtra and neighbouring Madhya Pradesh. Thousands of farmers have killed themselves over the last decade - by drinking pesticides or hanging themselves from trees - after unseasonal rains and drought affected their incomes.
Ringan tells the story of Arjun (Shashank Shende), a poor farmer who is haunted by nightmares of suicide, and his seven-year-old son Abhimanyu (Sahil Joshi), who visit the temple of Lord Vithal in Pandharpur. While Abhimanyu is looking for his dead mother and believes she is living at God’s abode, Arjun is seeking monetary help and a job so he can get back his land from the money lender back home.
The movie opens with Arjun’s nightmare where he is seen running across a barren land and reaches a tree full of people hanging from its branches. Mane makes deft use of silence in his film to establish the poverty, longing and faith of the destitute.
Shende plays the father with utmost honesty and brings every bit of the helplessness, hopelessness and grief of a single parent trying his best to make things better for his son. There is a sequence where he meets a saint near a temple and the two debate over the existence of God. Shende is immensely earnest when he snaps at the saint, “Do not talk like the mystics” when the latter tells him, “He may or may not exist. It is all about belief.” The simple and innocent faith of the poor despite facing unending suffering in his entire life is touching.
When Abhimanyu’s father decides to visit Pandharpur, his hopes rise yet again and he starts searching for his mother. When he sees his father approach prostitutes in the night, he believes it is his mother and goes looking for her later. There is no over-the-top melodramatic score or heavy dialogues to mar the chastity of the moment.
Ringan is not for the entertainment seeking crowd - it has the typical art movie feel. With a laid-back pace and indulgent use of silence and imagery, the film will be more palatable to those who love the art of cinema. Despite the pathos of drought-hit farmers, Ringan has a certain innocence that helps it leave a warm feeling.
Mane, who has also written the film, has ensured every single scene imparts gravitas to the narrative and brings home the emotions of his characters.
Ringan may not be a great movie and it does not preach higher-than-thou principles. The story is pretty average in isolation. However, the simplicity and authenticity of the film make it a heart-warming experience.
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