A Poignant Play on Perspectives, ‘Tashi’ Urges Viewers to Have More Meaningful Conversations With Those Around Us
Director: Shilpa Krishnan Shukla
Cast: Tania Mukherjee, Charan Singh, Ila Maheshwari, Sai Pogaru, Anvita Gupta
Language: English, Hindi
Runtime: 92 Minutes
Shilpa Krishnan Shukla’s feature film Tashi has been making the rounds recently. In collaboration with the Indian Film Festival of Cincinnati, the film was made available for a short time on YouTube as one of the festival’s official selections at its 2019 edition which went on to pick up the Best Screenplay Award.
Revolving around a small family of three, Tashi is a feel-good film lightly peppered with important messages throughout. Upon their mother’s ailing health, brother and sister Radhika (Tania Mukherjee) and Sanjay (Charan Singh) come together to take care of her and desperately try to make memories in her final days. They are forced to put their differences and grievances aside to do so. Add a surprise AirBnb guest and a hardworking helper to the mix and Tashi presents a poignant exploration of relationship dynamics.
One of the most striking things about the film is how good it looks. The visuals of Singapore are taken well, with a good mix of popular landmarks and tourist attractions. However, the real winning moment for the cinematography is how it makes both the public and private spaces of Singapore look equally pleasing; the main focus being an apartment and its surrounding neighbourhood, the film’s catalyst, bringing home much-needed intimacy to its script.
As most of the film happens indoors with simple frames, the cozy cinematography and versatile screenplay of Tashi is commendable. Through its visuals, the warm ambience and mood of the film is well-captured, leaving the cast to shine in their respective roles.
Tashi is one of those films where the audience have the freedom to take what they may from the film. All five characters are developed to a decent depth, with each having a specific backstory. They are likeable and breezy, making it easy for the audience to establish a connection. There is equal interaction between them which contributes greatly to the exploration of different dynamics and personalities.
The character that stayed with me most is domestic helper Priya (Anvita Gupta). She is extremely believable and earnest in her role, perfectly portraying the conflicting gratitude and worry that foreign workers face everyday. To contrast this, we have AirBnb guest Ved (Sai Pogaru) who is struggling with a fresh break-up. The interaction between the characters successfully conveys the film’s gentle message: everyone is fighting their own battles and what it takes to be kind is nothing more than some perspective and empathy for each other.
An issue I did have with Tashi is its unrealistic dialogue. It makes some interactions between the characters look artificial, especially those between the siblings. There is an overarching awkwardness (fake laughs and head nodding definitely doesn’t help) between some interactions that are never truly resolved, due to the dialogues which seem less conversational and more performative.
There is reprieve whenever the dialogues are delivered in Hindi, as that brought a very natural flow to the conversation – it made me wish that the entire film was delivered in Hindi. Essentially, most of the screenplay is dedicated to showcasing the no-frills and raw interactions between the characters which works because it is insightful to their psyche. It would have been immensely better, however, if the dialogues properly supplemented those scenes.
Most middle-age children with elderly parents will understand the nuances of Tashi and the internal turmoil they face when their own families are in the focus with their parents in the periphery. The film executes this premise beautifully, replying to these inner conflicts with the gentle message that the world is only as small or as big as we make it out to be.
If one does not have the desire to make that commitment, there will always be excuses. However, if one commits, no excuse would be enough – this interesting power struggle of perspectives is most noticeably shown between Sanjay and Radhika.
Ultimately, Tashi feels extremely familiar and holds up a mirror to the families around us. Backed by its solid cinematography, its constant tone of warmth and comfort makes for a light and enjoyable watch. At its soft core is its underlying family commentary reminding us that there are always conversations to be had with our loved ones.
Catch the trailer of Tashi below!
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