The first Indian film since Monsoon Wedding (2001) to pass the main competition selection at the Venice International Film Festival, The Disciple invites audiences to enter the world of Indian classical music. One of the cultures, which according to this film, is likened to an “eternal quest” that requires sacrifice and suffering, in order to fully master it. Not just music, but a spiritual process. Top Movie Site
At least, that’s what Chaitanya Tamhane (Court)’s latest work has to say, because I’m not going to pretend to know the intricacies of Indian classical music. I’m still groping about the sport (improvisation-based melodic framework) that plays an important role in it. Still a mystery. The protagonist, Sharad Nerulkar (Aditya Modak), is also trying to solve the mystery. It’s not about the technicalities of the music, but about the question, “Is he really talented?”.
Since childhood, he was guided by his father (Kiran Yadnyopabit), for years he studied from his teacher (Arun Dravid), also listened to recordings of music lectures belonging to Maai (Sumitra Bhave), a mysterious and legendary musician who is reluctant to publish his works or performances. All of that makes Sharad ambition to be in the top ranks of classical musicians. He regularly trains, runs all disciplines, even putting aside many things, such as making money and a partner (for the second, Sharad replaces it by masturbating in front of the computer).
But is all that enough? Because no matter how hard Sharad tried, he felt he was still far from perfect. The defeat in a competition, to criticism from the teacher (including in the middle of the show), sparked his doubts. For some artists, especially young ones, the realization that he is not a maestro often brings a crushing blow. I was once in Sharad’s position. When the turmoil of work is smoldering, colliding with something called “reality” is indeed terrible. From (feeling at) the top of the world, one can instantly fall into the deepest trough. Best Movie
I was lucky enough to only be in that phase for a short time. Sharad is not like that. In the second half, the film even takes more than a decade to jump in time, showing Sharad, who is 36 years old, still struggling with similar, if not worse, concerns. But as Maai says, classical music is a perpetual quest. In theory, Sharad knew that, but in practice, endless quests weren’t easy.
Sharad goes through the process of seeking the truth, both regarding himself and others, especially the figures he admires and plays an important role in his musical life. In addition, Tamhane, who co-wrote the script, also discussed “tradition vs modernization”. Sharad adheres to the principles of classical music which is full of tradition. But on the other hand, he makes money by transferring the cassette tapes to CDs. So to what extent is modernization acceptable? Tamhane offers a satisfactory middle ground as a conclusion.
Tamhane spent a year as a protégé of Alfonso Cuarón (co-executive producer of the film), during which he observed the making of Roma (2018). The influence of the mentor was felt. If you find the film’s musical elements hypnotizing, it’s because Tamhane spends a lot of time mixing Roma’s sound. Likewise in the visual department. The cinematography, directed by Michał Sobociński (based on the recommendations of Cuarón and Emmanuel Lubezki), uses a lot of minimally interrupted landscapes, which invites the viewer to observe.
Similar to Rome, The Disciple has a slow tempo, and often uses slow motion, which seems to match the atmospheric nuances of the music. Therefore, this film is not a journey that can be passed by all audiences. I myself admire all the advantages above. Admire how the director has become more solid even though he has only just reached the second film, admire his story which is able to neatly draw many branches from one idea of quest, admire Aditya Modak’s acting, who even though words come out of his mouth full of confidence, his face conveys fear and doubt. I admire The Disciple, but don’t love it. Maybe like Sharad, I went on a journey that wasn’t meant for me, even though I admit it was a good one. Movie Review