Friday, July 10, 2015

Astu (So be it): A beautiful film about memory loss and its impact on relationships

I recently watched a Marathi film called 'Astu' (Sanskrit word meaning "so be it") thanks to screening arranged by San Diego Psychiatric Society.  It is a film about an aging scholarly person who is suffering from memory loss (played by Dr. Mohan Agashe) and his daughter's struggle (played by Iravati Harshe) to deal with the situation. It also showcases layers of human emotions while dealing with the situation.

We are sum of our past and continue to live only because of our memories. The ability to intentionally forget unpleasant events of the past is what makes living possible. So both, the ability to retain and lose memories, are important aspects of human life. When one begins to lose memories without any control over them as in case of dementia, it leads to terrible situation not only for the person suffering the loss but all those around him/her.  The film raises some questions and indirectly offers some suggestions on how compassion in care if more important than rational thinking.

The lead character is very well-played by Dr. Mohan Agashe. His expressions and body language after he loses his memory is worth watching. His (elder) daughter played by Iravati Harshe is the second lead character in the film. She expresses her emotional up downs through her eyes and her frustration and helplessness with the situation gracefully. The third character that stays with you after the film is of an uneducated simple person played by Amruta Subhash. I have watched some of her movies in the past and the way she transforms herself in the role is simply amazing.  The last dialog she says in the film while talking to Iravati Harshe brings tears to eyes. Other supporting cast is okay and fits well with the storyline.  The director duo is well-known for giving thought-provoking films and they live by their reputation in this regard.

There are some philosophical connotations in the film. When memories are gone, only soul remains.. and that is unique to everyone yet universal. Sanskrit chants related to this with references to Adi Shankaracharya (Ko-hum "Who am I?" to So-hum  "I am that") are appropriately placed in the movie.  It also raises some philosophical questions. If a person has lost his/her memories and is just "existing", what is children's duty towards such person? Can we still love a person if that love is not reciprocated? Can we still tolerate a parent who unintentionally is harming our next generation? Can we approach this simply based on rationality? What is the value of compassion in the modern medicine?

The film is worth watching and certainly stays with you long after it finishes.

Astu Marathi Movie Trailer


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