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UKAFF 2021 Review: Raahgir Paves Way For ‘Ray Of Hope’

Amidst the new normal, the UK Asian Film Festival kicked off its 23rd edition with the UK Premiere of Goutam Ghose’s Raahgir – The Wayfarers at London’s prestigious BFI.

Three of India’s finest actors, Adil Hussain, Tillotama Shome and Neeraj Kabi come together on screen for the first time for this timely tale of empathy and compassion. It is a film based on the story by Prafulla Roy. 

Sharing a few words on the film, Mr Ghose says:

“The film primarily focuses on the humanity of common people, which is declining quite a lot these days. Due to various reasons, including the changes in the socio-economic structure, people have become extremely selfish.

People these days hardly even care about their neighbours, they are only concerned about their material gains.”

Raahgir follows three unlikely strangers, living a life of poverty, who come together on a journey in search of a better life, deciding to help each other at the risk of their own lives.

It is the intimate tale of humanity and kindness that we gravely need during these times of crisis.

Specifically, it centres on Nathuni (Shome) needs to go to the city to find a day’s work in order to feed her family, a paralysed husband and two school-age children, but it is a long walk through the deserted countryside and rough terrain.

On the way, she meets wanderer Lakhua (Hussain) and the two unlikely friends travel together encountering various strangers including Chopat Lal (Kabi) who is on an important mission.

As the festival commemorates 100 years of Satyajit Ray – it is quite befitting to see a piece of art presented by Goutam Gose. From the visually appealing camera shots to the human interest story, Ghose’s filmmaking, in many ways, is a true homage to Ray.

Given that after a lengthy period of lockdown blues and pandemic panic, Raahgir re-emphasises the sentiments of what it means to be ‘human’.

The film shakes you from within, compelling a sense of gratification for life and whatever it grants us – even the bad. It definitely humbles the viewer.

At the same time, Ghose strikes a perfect balance of not glorifying/romanticising the grief of the villagers and humanises the essence of their lives and acceptance of their situations.

Perhaps, the only shortcoming of the movie is the first scene, which unnecessarily over-emphasises how gruelling their life is.

What also makes this a cinematically ace piece is the incorporation of allegories.

From the cart being stuck in the mud to the traditional warrior-like dancing, small instances in the film allude to a much larger moral. Even a still object like the cart seems like an additional character in the film.

Ghose’s still wide-shots with minimal movements are visually pleasing and a fabulous way to transition into the next scene. In fact, he makes the rural and city landscapes.

The cinematography is brilliant. To top it up, performances by the principal cast is first-rate. Tillotama, Adil and Neeraj encapsulate mannerisms of the lesser-wealthy in an organic way.

A special mention of a scene where Tillotama weeps vehemently whilst at a Dhaba… Her expressions, subtlety and yet charm to the character are very powerful. In fact, Nathuni is a very formidable role. 

Whilst the tempo of the film is rather unhurried and slow, Raahgir nonetheless is a real ode to humanity. It emphasises that even during a global calamity, we have to keep pushing… No matter how much we’re stuck in a rut.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars) 

Watch our Exclusive interview with team Raahgir here:

 

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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