NYIFF 2017 Film Review “The Narrow Path”

  

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First, the Recap:

The millstone of responsibility. While we may strive to do the best we can at any given task, there are those times where said duty can seem restrictive and cumbersome, even taking on a sense of incarceration. But when it is another person at the center of this conundrum, can we truly walk away? For one young man, Akhil (Sarath Sabha), the dreams of Bangalore, a new career, a fresh start, and a desperately desired freedom call to him, even as the current reality lies before him–caring for his ailing father Vikraman (K. Kaladharan). Bed and wheelchair bound, the relationship between the two is tangibly strained, as both routine and Vikraman’s cantankerous demeanor weigh on Akhil.

Despite the additional assistance of their housekeeper Mary (Prajusha), whose own association with Vikraman is less than amicable when he exposes a secret about her she believed was unknown, it only makes Akhil’s ultimate goal more difficult–this is the last day before leaving for Bangalore with his girlfriend Nina (Krishna Priya), having not advised his father about it. As the day drags on, Vikraman’s constant badgering, added pressure from Nina, plus trying to make arrangements with Mary for ongoing care, begins to take its toll on Akhil, hitting a decidedly hard breaking point. However, in the midst of strife comes unexpected revelation from Vikraman and unforeseen reconciliation for Akhil, even as life takes a poignant, impactful turn for them both.

Next, my Mind:

Very much a completely character-driven narrative, which independent film so adeptly relies on time and time again, this 97-minute effort from brothers Satish and Santosh Babusenan carries the weight of its themes with a slow burn mentality that does require some patience on the part of the viewer, but delivers a soul-stirring payoff well worth the investment in time. Expanding on concepts ranging from feeling trapped by obligations, pursuing dreams, the burden of care for another, wanting to rise above one’s station in life, the realizations of what’s most important, and the unconditional love of a parent towards their child, all of this and more is navigated with an understated yet emotionally-charged tone that effectively immerses us into this strained connection between father and son with affecting poise.

Sabha delivers a fantastic performance as Akhil, a young man just on the verge of an entirely new stage in life, an escape from the weight of being caretaker, a release from his father’s consistently harsh attitude towards him, and the joy of simply beginning anew away from the impoverished existence he’s known. But, watching the character’s transformation occur as the story unfolds is amazingly potent, even if carried off in initially subtle ways, and Sabha embodies this so very well. Likewise, Kaladharan totally portrays Vikraman as the embittered old man that he is–unapologetic, always in need, exceedingly demanding, and set in his ways. Yet, below the tough exterior resides a deeper love and an acute awareness of what’s occurring around him, with one particular moment of vulnerability he encounters is so overtly moving as we watch those embattled layers get stripped away.

Additionally, solid supporting turns are given by Prajusha as Mary, the long-suffering but warm-hearted housekeeper who learns about second chances and the awareness Vikraman possesses, Priya as Nina, Akhil’s girlfriend whose own dreams of getting away to Bangalore with Akhil may or may not coming true, Vijayakumar as the local doctor/apothecary/masseuse who shares a key sequence with Vikraman, Gibin Nair as Mary’s husband Pappachan with whom Akhil has also arranged as caretaker for Vikraman, and Shriram as Sanal, a friend of Akhil’s. In total, with its emotive execution and superbly powerful finale driving home a final illustration of love and sacrifice, “The Narrow Path” more than deserves recognition as the quality piece of indie filmmaking it is, presenting a relatable story that paints a evocative portrait of parenthood, recollection, and the value of forgiveness.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!

 

 

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