Unlike every other family drama, Netflix’s Tribhanga: Tedhi Medhi Crazy stands out with its expansive approach in storytelling and keeps the audience glued with its relative themes and characters.
Tribhanga is a cross-generational film featuring Kajol as Anuradha Apte (Anu), Tanvi Azmi as Nayantara Apte (Nayan), and Mithila Palkar as Masha. The story rivets around the relationship between mothers and daughters in a patriarchal and rigidly defined society. Anu is a famous Bollywood actress and an Odissi dancer, Nayan is an award-winning novelist, and Masha a housewife.
The story oscillates between the past and the present, giving glimpses of the relationships and circumstances back in time which continue to impact the present-day relationships. The plot picks up from the time when Nayan slips into a coma while her autobiography is still in progress.
The story majorly focuses on the sour relation between Nayan and Anu. Nayan is a passionate writer and receives much-deserved acclamation from her contemporaries but her devotion for writing comes in way of her familial ‘duties’ which makes her vulnerable to the jabs coming from her mother-in-law. Sick and tired of constant nags and her effete husband, she leaves her matrimonial house, taking away her children, Anu and Robindro.
A few years later, when Anu is fourteen years old, Nayan marries a young photographer, Vikram, who sexually molests Anu. Nayan, completely unaware of this could not understand why her teenage daughter tried to commit suicide. This was the beginning of their tensed relationship.
As the story unfolds, Anu and Robindro begin to blame their mother, her choices and her ignorance for their turbulent childhood and life. The siblings refuse to call their mother ‘Aai’ and address by her name.
Both, Nayan and Anu, lived their lives defying all the social protocols and institutionalised conventional family norms. This has a direct impact on Masha, who finds it difficult to fit into a community where bloodline decides the prestige of a person, especially a woman.
Weary of demeaning comments questioning the legitimacy of the parentage Masha chooses conventional life of domesticity in order to give a legitimate life to her children. Things come a full circle when Masha confronts her mother, Anu, with the social harassment she had to undergo because of her (Anu’s) unconventional lifestyle.
Tribhanga is a story which portrays strong female characters navigating through life, making their own life choices and defying patriarchal orthodoxies. They take charge of their own lives and take full accountability of their actions and their consequences.
The present day story, for a good part, takes place in a private hospital ward. We see characters in their present self.
Tanvi Azmi stands out with her stellar performance of a famous literary figure. She gracefully holds on to her demeanour and her character gleams through her narration of her past life. Azmi duly plays the character of a radical woman who refuses to conform to the social definition of womanhood. She brings her wisdom into the character of Nayan and stands out among the rest. In the present-day storyline, she never wakes up from the coma, it is her narration which gives shape to her character.
Not to miss, Shweta Mehendale as young Nayan adds weight to Azmi’s character and makes the character of Nayan even more promising and authentic.
As for Kajol, she plays the role of an unapologetic, strong middle-aged woman. Her character portrayal is rough and becomes hard to take sometimes. In other words, her rudeness and swearing is justified coming from a disturbed childhood, but Kajol goes overboard at some places.
Mithila Palkar is seen in the role of Kajol’s daughter who is pregnant. From the beginning of the movie she is shown in a floundering light which begins to make sense as the movie progresses. Palkar, in a very short screen time, manages to give an impactful performance.
Kunnal Roy Kapoor as Milan, flatters with his charm and his presence throughout the movie. He is persistent and tries his best to mend the strained relationship between Nayan and her kids.
Robindro’s role played by Vaibhav Tatwawaadi doesn’t contribute much to the story. He is a silent character who loves his sister unconditionally. His perfect character among the troubled mothers and daughters fails to impact the storyline and characters.
The dysfunctional family drama shows three head strong women who decides their own life paths, without self-accusation.
Tribhanga is an exemplary work of commentary on social issues which are very much part of our society but are often hushed away in a male-dominated set-up.
The movie takes up issues of sexual harassment, live-in relationships, domestic violence, single-motherhood, sex determination, insensitive journalism, open relationships, the impact of trauma, and bullying.
Renuka Sahane, in her directorial debut, has taken up issues which are hard to accept and swallow for many in a very graceful and open to articulation manner. The movie doesn’t put the social fallacies into stringent categories rather shows how they collectively influence our lives and relationships.
Even though, Tribhanga is a critique of a patriarchal society it does not come out as man-hating.
The movie has taken up feminist issues of domestic violence, single-motherhood, sexual assault, difficulties of working women in an Indian household, and sex determination without buttoning down to the term. Thus, veering away from a declarative form of storytelling.
Despite its brilliance, it does have its issues. Tribhanga fails to provide a larger ground to better understanding of the characters and sprints up towards the end.
Moreover, the deduction of years of tensions and bitterness in a 95-minute movie seems a little utopian.
Tribhanga: Tedhi Medhi Crazy is a foolproof family watch and might also open some cards on the table with its relativity. The movie aces in presenting women who are unapologetically themselves, who struggle yet thrive in a world which continues to pull them down.