'Photo-Prem' review: Light-hearted take on death, despair and fear
Neena Kulkarni-starrer Marathi comedy-drama Photo-Prem is now streaming on Amazon Prime. The film focuses on the struggle of a middle-aged housewife to get a perfect photo to be hung up on the wall after her death. The catch is, she is afraid of the camera. The film has been directed and co-written by Aditya Rathi and Gayatri Patil. Here's our review.
Story: Maee is on a mission for a good photo
After attending a prayer meet, where the deceased's family couldn't produce any picture of hers for an obituary, Kulkarni's character Maee gets a wake-up call. Her camera phobia has kept her out of pictures for decades but she realizes that a good picture is the only legacy you leave behind. She obsessively starts following the obituaries in paper and in real life!
The premise is frustrating at first but later becomes gripping
For a generation like ours, which can click a-picture-a-minute, the premise at first is frustrating but slowly, you are on-board with Maee's journey to overcome her fear, and score a perfect picture, while subliminally dealing with the topic of inevitability of death.
Kulkarni wins heart; supporting characters help carry the film
Kulkarni, who is a veteran in both Hindi and Marathi cinema, is a delight in every frame. Her expressions, when she tries to smile for the camera, are impeccable. Apart from her, the house-help Shantabai (Chaitrali Rode) and the neighborhood kid Teju, who are good samaritans helping her on her journey, carry the film forward and add the needed pizzazz.
Sequence where Maee discovers a camera is the highlight
Maee, who is constantly thinking of facing an untimely death, suddenly finds a camera one day. The child-like wonder with which she looks at the world through the camera's viewfinder is the highlight of the whole movie.
The direction is subtle; film seems draggy in parts
A film where there aren't many characters or sub-plots should be fast-paced. Photo-Prem lacks that, as many sequences sometimes feel unnecessary and dragged-out. The camera work and production design are subtle and evoke that it's happening next-door-kinda feel. The song used toward the end seems unnecessary, as by then you want the film to reach its climax.
Conclusion: The film makes an important point, gets 3/5
The 93-minutes-long film starts out as poignant with a spoonful of funny, but by the interval, the writing becomes a little lethargic and so does the pace. It still manages to make an important statement about death and the fear of what legacy one leaves behind for others. The film can be a good one time watch, especially for Kulkarni. Final rating: 3/5 stars.