Art imitates life and life imitates art. It is the intrinsic power of good art to create a universal appeal with its viewers. The more rooted in reality the art is, the deeper the impact it tends to leave on its audience. When we talk of the art of cinema, many have argued for the medium to be used as an escape from the grim realities of every day. I do not quite agree. Reality is permanent and there is no escaping it. It is the filmmaker’s viewfinder through which we get to experience how they perceive reality. As the audience, if we can find communion with that perception, the film strikes a chord with us. When we are stepping into the theatre, we are looking for a part of ourselves on-screen that we can resonate with.
Recently, one particular Odia film, 'Pratikshya', has resonated with a vast majority of cine lovers because of its unique ‘Indian-ness’ and astute portrayal of the reality of the nation's middle class. The film was released in December 2022 and has been directed by the talented Anupam Patnaik. It is inspired by a short story written by Sarala Puraskar-winning author Gaurahari Das and some true incidents. The cast includes stars such as Dipanwit Dasmohapatra, Choudhury Jayprakash Das, Barsha Patnaik, Sreela Tripathy, Abakash Mishra, Roopambika Nayak, Susil Mishra, Roshan Bisoi and Deepak Upadhaya, and also the megastar of Ollywood, Siddhant Mohapatra in a distinguished role. Even before the film’s theatrical release, it had been creating a lot of buzz in cine circuits. But what it is that makes Pratikshya so special?
It is the film’s ability to extraordinarily portray the ordinary that makes it extraordinary. The main thread of the story revolves around a son realizing his father’s importance in his life, which is something the director personally relates to and it shines through his work. The plot revolves around Sanjay, a talented yet unemployed graduate, whose unwavering focus is fixed on securing a government position. Meanwhile, his father Bipin, grappling with the imminent arrival of retirement, strives to persuade Sanjay to consider any job opportunity that comes his way. Amidst the weighty responsibilities they shoulder, the family experiences both moments of joy and tears alongside Sanjay.
However, a pivotal incident unfolds, altering the trajectory of Sanjay and his kin. In the face of dire circumstances, Sanjay delves deep into the recesses of his mind, seeking an unconventional resolution to his myriad predicaments. Unbeknownst to him, the pursuit of his desires and ambitions may exact a toll on matters of greater significance. A sense of frustration consumes Sanjay as he finds himself caught in a ceaseless waiting game, losing sight of the pressing issues that surround him. As he anticipates the consequences of his actions, he realizes the absence of a companion to share his triumphs. While the narrative predominantly revolves around the theme of anticipating the worst for his ailing father, it also explores a parallel thread — the wait for the culmination of Sanjay's romantic relationship as his girlfriend yearns for their long-awaited marriage.
The constant financial struggle of a middle-class family, the household responsibilities thrust on the son when the father reaches old age, the lack of financial safety net when a family emergency occurs, the typically ingrained Indian pressure to secure a government job, the looming demand for marriage — these are all themes that young folk from the Indian middle class can relate to. The movie was shot in real-life places in Bhubaneshwar and the director quite rightly stated that “The film has the essence of Bhubaneswar and every youth will be able to personally relate with the storyline." While it has been particularly lauded for its screenplay, the cinematography, sound design, and production were also top-notch. Pratikshya is one of those several brilliant Indian films in regional languages that are often overshadowed by the mainstream populism of Bollywood.
Even before the movie’s release, Anupam Patnaik said that he was confident that this film would end the dry spell in the theaters and bring back the long-lost audiences of Odia films. His claim was quite right as many of the audience opted for advance ticket booking and it was a house-full show in the theatres on the first day. The film also received international acclaim with its screening at the 11th Annual DC South Asian Film Festival. Pratikshya won an award for best story at the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa. Veteran Bollywood actor Anupam Kher was thoroughly impressed with the film and has announced that he will produce a Hindi remake of Pratikshya.
Dipanwit, on playing the central character and working with the director in an interview with Mycitylinks
You can watch the trailer of Pratikshya below.
If you enjoyed reading this, here's more from Homegrown: