His Father’s Voice, the English feature film debut from Indian writer-director-cinematographer Kaarthikeyan Kirubhakaran, was screened recently at the Lotus Five Star State cineplex in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
The special one-time screening, which drew a sold-out crowd, was made possible by Saibha Vision and Kalpana Dance Theatre. Several of the cast and crew, including the director and his wife Ashwini Pratap Pawar, came for the event and gave the premiere a touch of glamour.
I was keen to check it out because its synopsis – a drama about gifted male dancer Kris (Christopher Gurusamy), who is separated from his musician father Jon (Jeremy Roske) in childhood but how finds his way back to both dance and his dad – sounded interesting,
I was also eager to see how bharathanatyam could be woven into the tale.
The film was under two hours, featured some lovely music and a few idyllic settings of Kaavadi in Tamil Nadu, India. The general arc of the plot was also interesting, but the script often seemed to unravel at an excruciatingly slow pace.
The dialogue in parts was too flowery and overly poetic, though it may have been reflective of the Ramayana which is heavily referenced throughout. I don’t know if that sort of imagery works for today’s audiences. The scene when Parvathi (Ashwini) and Jon accidentally meet one night was particularly cringeworthy.
However, the dance scenes and music, as well as the scenic sets and gist of the story resonates well. Long after the movie, I was still thinking about it and wondering if the pace was in fact deliberate and measured for effect.
We’re used to being handed things at an accelerated pace – movies are jam packed with action, fast food can’t arrive fast enough, before waiting for an answer to a question we’re already talking again…
His Father’s Voice, with its slo-mo tempo, forced one to take a step back and appreciate that life (or love) doesn’t reveal itself as one would like it to. Often, resolutions will take a lifetime.
Amongst a cast of mostly dancers, Sudharma Vaithiyanathan’s performance stood out. Sudharma plays Kris’ love interest Valli. She not only acted and danced well, she had some of the best lines including, “Why wasn’t it called the Sitayana instead?”
Meanwhile, Kalpana Dance Theatre’s own PT Narendran – who plays Valli’s dad, Nagarajan – holds his own. It’s nice to see opportunities like this opening up for dancers.
Manage your expectations before you watch the movie. Be ready to appreciate something fresh, rich in culture and somewhat eye opening, but don’t expect perfection.