Last night, we saw the Marathi film, ‘नटसम्राट, Natasamrat’. 

After watching this movie, I remembered a moment from my childhood, when we stayed in an apartment complex. One of our neighbours, had his frail, bent, old mother, living with him. She was always dressed in the traditional, nine-yard saree. Perhaps, she had dementia due to her old age, as I don’t recall her communicate to us like a normal grand-mother would. This old lady, freely lay in their living room on a wooden cot by the window. Occasionally, she would stand up, and urinate, just like a cow, in the middle of this large room, where we played inside our imaginative, magical worlds. Then her grandchildren, who were my friends, would call out to their mother, without any shame or embarrassment, saying, “Grandmother is peeing in the hall, Mother !” Without a word of irritation, their mother would then come and clean the floor, or the carpet that lay in the center of the room, and perhaps, also took the old lady to change into a fresh sari. This was such a normal act that as children we didn’t give any further attention to such a happening. It was common to see elders and ailments, be part of our homes, and death, like birth, too was part of this evolution, when most of us lived together, under one roof. And so, we continued to play, unperturbed, in the same space. None of us, embarrassed, our hearts fuelling up with more tenderness and compassion. Their hall often had a faint urine smell, but everybody was fine with it, as grandmother’s well being mattered and they all loved her unconditionally through all her stages of old age. I have internalised this image in the deep recesses of my mind. 

Today, in just two decades, times have changed dramatically. I observe a boldness of expression inside of me. Time and again, I go within, to see if my heart remains as compassionate and loving, despite it all. Last night, watching, and listening to all the fine and poetic Marathi literature, through this movie, ‘Natasamrat’, leaves most of us shaken. We find ourselves deeply introspecting and reflecting on all the relationships in our lives with a renewed, understanding of compassion and love. It leaves us inspired with revived feelings of love and understanding for our parents, and all our loved ones. 

Good theatre, art and music, have incredible power to heal and transform human beings for the better. It is good to see this film also with sensitive English subtitles, allowing non-Maharashtrians too, to enjoy the deep literature of Shri. Kusumagraj. 

 https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natsamrat