A very big man

Posted on June 15, 2017

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A flashback to moments from the 1972 Kannada drama ‘Vamsha Vruksha’, the story of a widow who remakes her life.

Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/article/southern-lights-vamsha-vriksha

Can a man be both traditional and modern? Can a Brahmin believe in rites and rituals and the Hindu way of life (which, sometimes, can be terribly patriarchal), and yet understand others who want to snap free? Vamsha Vruksha (Family Tree), directed by BV Karanth and Girish Karnad, gives us Shrinivasa Shrothri, one look at whom paints a vivid picture of the man in the mind of the viewer. His forehead is smeared with stripes of ash. The sacred thread snakes across his torso. The hair is shaven in front, tufted at the back. A string of black beads hangs around his neck. We think we know the man.

But it turns out that we don’t quite. In some ways, Shrinivasa Shrothri does live up to the stereotype. As the film opens, he’s lost his son. The daughter-in-law, Kathyayani, has made the transition from coloured saris to white, and as she’s rocking her infant son to sleep, Shrinivasa Shrothri asks, “Have you been reading the Gita like I asked you to?” Kathyayani replies, “I tried reading it, but I just wasn’t interested.” He says, patiently, “Try again. You’ll develop an interest. Don’t lose hope.” She says, “What’s the use? I do not find peace of mind.” He says, “True. We cannot suffer for someone else’s sorrows. Pain is purely personal. By reading the Gita, you’ll realise this and find solace.”

Continued at the link above.

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