How can a first film be the best film? Ram Reddy is so much a product of a distinctive voice, I think it will take a lot of sweat for his mainstream film to match the splendour of this heartfelt, deep comedy which is an original.
To use death as an accessory for a comedy has been common to all the cinema in India. But the Kannadiga film 'Thithi' is a young, mature film of skill and sweat which uses the acting skills of non-actors with beauty, and the word 'death' with so much beauty of ridicule, it hardly feels an exercise to mine out humour. This is an interestingly metaphorical film about man and meat, spirited characters and their real, relatable situations. It's fascinating how the camera moves from the inside to the outside. The writing is not perfect, with sluggishness occurring frequently. It especially feels crude in the first hour.
But it's an unforgettable and inherently sweet comic with its heart and intentions in the right place. Other than the screenwriting, which too is too interesting to be dismissed, everything is perfect in this film, if the word 'perfect' exists. Century Gowda shall stay with you, so will Thithi, so will Abhi. It won't let go.
Indian cinema is experiencing a huge paradigm shift: from largely making potboilers for decades till the 2000s to finally arriving at making artful films. Thithi is one such example where comedy and drama is mixed to generate amusement.
Gaddappa (Channegowda) is the eldest and most careless son of late Century Gowda (Singrigowda), a centenarian who lived a lousy life. As per his community/religion/caste, he is the one who should perform the last rites at Gowda's funeral ("thithi" in Kannada). However, Gaddappa is least bothered, both about the funeral and about the land that he has now inherited from his father. Anxious and impatient is Thammanna (Thammegowda), Gaddappa's only son, who fears that the land will be usurped by his uncles. So, he devises a crooked plan to transfer the land into his name and subsequently sell it before the funeral. Not being helpful in this activity is Thammanna's son, Abhi (Abhishek H N), who is experiencing and trying to enjoy his newly found puberty. These three people's eccentric but ordinary actions leading up to the funeral is what the film is about.
One should thank the person who created the English subtitles for the film, for it helps a non-Kannada person understand the film and also get the jokes. Light humor is sampled in most of the dialogues as the characters interact with each other impassively. The air maintained by the three central characters as they set out on their own endeavours is absolutely normal yet highly convincing. Hence, it is the cast performance and delivery that works best for the story to propel forward seamlessly. Prima facie, the plot is pretty straightforward, but "Thithi" is about the intricacies and small things that describe these characters and their actions.
Writer-director Raam Reddy's efforts to clinch the quirky minds of the people of the small Karnataka village evidently pay off, with the film having not a single dull moment. With support from great production setup and continuity, the film succeeds in making its audience laugh and ponder about life (and death?). Moreover, it even teaches you a game and pokes fun at your gullibility.
For Kannada speakers, this will be a definite treat. For foreigners, this can be a light- hearted, one-time affair.
BOTTOM LINE: Raam Reddy's "Thithi" is an enjoyable film that should be watched and lauded, mostly for its brilliant cast and their flawless performance as quirky characters. Rent that DVD now!
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? NO
"Part of what made Raam Reddy’s debut film THITHI so compelling is its ability to give a real account of village life ongoings and procedures through a fully unfiltered lens. Yes, there have been other “village” films to come out, particularly those from Bollywood such as PEEPLI LIVE, but the forced media-eye encounter of that film was still a bit decorated and polished. Here, we get Karnataka in its utter primal state."
FULL REVIEW: https://extrasensoryfilms.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/three-stories-from-indias-rural-heartland/