Thithi opens with a glimpse of Century Gowda’s daily routine. He is over 100 years, hence the nickname ‘Century.’ Given that he is a dinosaur of a man, he has seen a lot and knows everyone in the village by name and their backstories. It’s just another day, ‘Century’ is sitting at the main bus stop of the village and indulging in his version of catcalling. He takes a break to relieve himself, and before he could finish it, he collapses. A few beats later, a woman sees the ever-perky ‘Century’ lying motionless at a back alley and raises the alarm. Soon a crowd gathers and finds out that his great innings has finally ended. There is no air of sadness around his death as everybody in their own way tips their hat to Century’s long life. It is a sort of party, as people gather around and all chip in to give him the best send-off that they could.
But, Century Gowda’s family is bereaved. And it is not for obvious reasons. Century Gowda’s son Gaddappa, the protagonist of the movie, if you will, wants nothing to do with his father’s death. Gaddappa needs to be persuaded by the villagers to perform the rites of his father. Century’s grandson Thammanna is stewing over an ancestral property that is exposed to risks without a proper will. And Century’s great-grandson, well, he is just distracted like any other teenager.
The plot thickens when Thammanna decides to get rid of his father Gaddappa for the property.
The performances are flawed, and dialogues are blatantly improvised. There are no structured, long, well-written speaking lines in the movie barring a few exceptions. The dialogues feel like hilariously ad-libbed conversations with people saying the most natural things in the most natural situations.
A man, who is hell-bent on ingratiating himself to rich people, a village taskmaster who draws hardline when it comes to following the rituals, a seemingly innocent man who crosses a few lines for greed, a couple of hormone-fuelled teenagers and to top it all a heavily bearded man who is determined to carry his family’s darkest secrets to his grave. With such colourful characters, this humble and wonderful piece of cinema laughs in the face of the conversational tropes that usually define rural-based films. The people in the movie do the most shocking, cunning, taboo and controversial deeds without a fuss.
Thithi captures the drama and universal human impulses in the most understated way. This movie is the most normal thing we would see any given day. It sort of embodies the spirit of French New Way, as director Raam Reddy favours spontaneity over planning by casting non-actors over trained professionals.
Thithi also completes five years in 2020. The film made its debut at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2015, where it won the festival’s top prize, Golden Leopard. Back home, it earned a National Award.
Thithi is streaming on Netflix.
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