Documentary films are, more often than not, known to be tiresome. Aunty Sudha, Aunty Radha, is also a documentary film. Though, it manages to hold your attention and, at times, even move you.
Directed by Tanuja Chandra (niece of the aunts), it is currently promoted under the MAMI Year Round Programme Home Theatre initiative. It tells the story of two elderly sisters – Sudha and Radha, along with their half-a-dozen caregivers, who all reside in Lahra Village of Uttar Pradesh.
True to how we see our grandparents spend their time every day – the film captures the daily musings of the aunts. The scenes rarely seem scripted. There is the right amount of detail that makes the editing harmonious. And the camerawork is damn good.
Anyone who belongs to rural livelihood or has experienced village life will find great solace in its visuals.
The scenery is devoid of automobile exhaust as the village landscape provides immense sophistication. The opening minutes introduces us to the household, with beautifully lit indoor shots. The natural sounds augment the sequence and give a three-dimensional effect.
Chandra made this documentary with the same crew, with whom she directed her previous film, Qarib Qarib Single (starring Irrfan Khan). Her DOP, Eeshit Narain, lenses the conversations very well and keeps the setting realistic. For the most part, it appeared the aunts did not realize that camera is rolling.
The editing is also very fluid. The recorded footage is put together very well. The final minutes are particularly great as the film ends on a rousing note.
By the time the credits roll, you feel like you have known the characters enough to remember them for a long time.
Aunty Sudha, Aunty Radha Educates About Living Life to the Fullest
Opposite to the case of children abandoning their parents, it is a personal choice of Aunty Sudha, Aunty Radha, to spend their autumn days together. Their husbands are deceased, and their families well-settled. But the desire to live their terminal years together makes their story worth telling.
It is delightful to watch them argue with each other about a variety of matters.
Whether it is placing a fountain in the garden, preparing sweet-smelling dishes, or giving away a saree from a stock of hundreds – there is continuous one-upmanship between the two sisters.
These are the best bits of the documentary as they represent the zeal of the aunts to live a commanding life, even at the age of 86 and 93.
The Documentary Highlights the Significance of Village Life
A significant amount of screen time is given to caregivers. Each of them has their own experience to share about their association with the aunts.
One of the caregivers even admits serving the family for 50 years. Tanuja asks them for how happy they all seem throughout the day with the aunts. One man replies that all of them are one big extended family, and it is exciting to be with the aunts.
It is the little joys that the film emphasizes that makes for the right message for our nation’s youth, that is obsessed with the toxic work culture and hesitates in spending time with their family.
There is a lovely segment featuring the festival of Holi. The honest emotion and celebration are heartwarming and make you feel evocative about your village men.
It is, in fact, the film’s central message that the world is not as cynical as we think it is. There are still people in abundance who value others for emotions over money.
You can watch Aunty Sudha, Aunty Radha, at your home by registering for MAMI Year Round Programme. Registrations are valid till May 4th, 2020. Watch the trailer below.
Rating: 3 / 5
If you have already seen this documentary, what do you think of it? What lessons did you learn from it? Let me know the same in the comment section below.