Kathaah@8 (2019) Movie review – Powerful

8 short stories. 8 languages. 8 states. 8 P.M. One movie. Many emotions. 

Introduction

Kathaah@8 is an Indian film shot in eight different languages. The film is a collection of 8 short stories linked under a common theme ‘life decisions’. And these decisions don’t deal with some random stuff. Instead, they speak about the conversations revolving around serious decision making. Some of them come to a pleasing end while some end up abstract. 

However, the whole strength of the movie lies in this conceptual visualization. 

‘Sum of the parts is greater than the whole’

The Gestalt theory

Like the Gestalt theory, the movie as a whole succeeds due to the sum of the individual stories’ accomplishments.

8 languages

Yes, the fact that Kathaah@8 uses 8 different languages piped in my interest. However, as an ardent film lover, I believe it to be the case of any film that language plays only a small role in a movie. And it turned out to be true. 

If all the 8 stories had been in the same language, I would have liked the movie too. But something within told me that this tactic was not just to lure the audience by throwing a bait. The bait, if that was its aim, worked out absolutely fine, I have to give it to the crew. But, I felt it was not the sole purpose of having multiple languages in the movie.

The hidden reason

As I mentioned before, the movie is from India. Every youngster in India would feel the pressure of the society taming their lives according to its (read theirs) wish. Society plays a pivotal role in designing a person’s life, especially in a densely populated (read overpopulated)country like India. 

Society decides a person’s education, the bride/ groom, the number of children, etcetera, and etcetera. A little search in google says that these pressures are seen heightened in the developing countries like India and China. Many youths are now affected by depression than any other generation that has ever grazed this planet. The reason? Well, cutting the rope, we are still developing. 

The human emotions

The hidden depth of using multiple languages to convey these stories in Kathaah@8, I believe, is to emphasize the fact that these problems are omnipresent throughout the country. The perfect mix of the languages shot in 8 different Indian languages, the film is proof of these ever prevailing issues. It exists from Assam to Tamil Nadu. There are problems everywhere, and people are solving it. What is your excuse going to be?

The decision to decide is a decision itself.

In Kathaah@8, the movie’s theme lies in thinking beyond what society feeds us as the right thing to do. All 8 stories have certain aspects of how we have been defined to live and how the characters come out of it or at least trying to come out of it.

The 8 stories – Kathaah@8

Punjabi

Kathaah@8 - Punjabi
Kathaah@8 – Punjabi

A couple discusses how they are planning to spend their old age. The father feels his daughter is growing old and that she now concentrates less on him. He thinks that she is slowly moving away. As he conveys his concerns to his wife, she stands by her daughter, stating her age. She feels that her daughter is undergoing the pressures of the teenagers, and she’ll gradually come out of it. As they think of where they wish to spend their old age, they decide to save enough money to join an old age home. They would never be a burden to their child.

Gujarati

 A woman has lost her husband. It has been a few years now, and she is now living past the life of her husband’s memory to disturb her. A colleague of hers comes to her house. An older man opens the door. As he keeps speaking to him, the old man understands the visitor’s purpose. He wants to marry his daughter-in-law. He suggests that it’s been quite some time since his son died, and life hasn’t been good since then for them. Bus, she has to move on. He wishes him good luck.

Tamil

Kathaah@8 - tamil
Kathaah@8 – Tamil

A middle-aged woman discusses her decision to divorce her husband with her brother and sister-in-law. The reason she decides to get a divorce is that she never felt her husband love her. After constant procrastination, she has decided to get one. If they are to continue living, then it would be for the sake of society. Their children’s future? Well, they are to stay together in the same house and take care of their children. 

Malayalam

A dancer girl has proposed to her friend. He, surprised by her proposal, rejects her. She puts her favourite song on her radio and keeps dancing to get over the rejection. Soon, the boy comes again and conveys to her that he always wanted her to be his friend whom he can look for leaning on when in trouble. He seldom imagined her as his wife. He wishes to be her to continue as his friend. On hearing this, the girl vents out and asks him to leave. She doesn’t wish to be a free pillar to someone who doesn’t want to be committed to her. After sending him away, she continues her dance.

Bengali

Kathaah@8 - Bengali
Kathaah@8 – Bengali

Along with his wife, a man is on his way to visit his brother after a long time. We come to know that they are planning to ask for their share of assets from his father. In the meantime, the other brother plots down the points with his wife on how to get the major share from the asset. As they meet each other, they begin their conversation, hugging, and greeting each other. Soon, they reach the point of share splitting. And then their discussion erupts into a funny, witty family fight. The twist – As they fight over, the brothers’ father comes in a wheelchair and says, ‘At least wait till my death’.

Telugu

A conversation between a brother and sister – the environment looks sad, and they look so tired. The brother has just been diagnosed with cancer. He calls ith the Big’ C’. They discuss how to convey this to their parents and should they have a second opinion. The brother had planned to propose his girlfriend and now is so unsure of conveying his feelings. They address the uncertain future and what lies ahead for them. However, they end up the conversation on a very positive note believing in hope rather than Fear.

Marathi

The best story on this list – It is a conversation between a husband and his wife. She is in a devasted mood. She locks herself in the bathroom. Her husband sits beside the entrance of the bathroom door and tries to understand her problem. In a recent party, she had been accused by her aunt on she is taking extra care to maintain her figure and even going to the extent of avoiding having children. However, after repeated attempts, they had been unsuccessful in having a baby.

Kathaah@8 - Marathi
Kathaah@8 – Marathi

Now, she wants her husband to take her to the ashram and see a child as planned before. If they are happy, they’ll adopt that child. To this husband replies that they shall adopt a child only when she is completely ready to become a mother and because someone else is complaining. Also, when she is fully ready, then there is no case of seeing a child and adopting it. They’ll adopt the child howsoever it looks. After a prolonged conversation, the wife agrees that she indeed is not ready, and needs time. She comes out of the bathroom, and they decide to go out to dinner.

Assamese

The final short is about a middle-aged woman. She is the only character in this story, and she speaks to herself most of the time. She is getting herself ready to impress her husband. She looks at the mirror and making herself more admirable. The grand dinner is ready, and she is waiting for him eagerly. A cake is awaiting on one table.

She has something to tell him. As she is passing every second, her phone rings. It’s her husband on the line. She enquires if something is wrong. Why is he not here yet? He says that he has something to tell her. As she speaks over, she realizes that this wasn’t a pleasant call.

Her husband is asking for a divorce. She could just not believe her ears. ‘Why did he suddenly take this decision?’ she asks herself. She finds out that there is another woman in his life. Shattered, she presses on for a further reason. She doubts if the absence of a child is his problem. To her surprise, he replies that it is better that they don’t have any children. The presence of children would have complicated the situation.

Kathaah@8 - Assamese
Kathaah@8 – Assamese

She suppresses a painful smile and says goodbye to her husband on call. After a few seconds, she reaches the table where the cake is. It had the following in bold letters – ‘We are having a baby’. She lights the candle on the cake and blows it out.

The message of Kathaah@8

As she blows out the candle, the screen turns black. The BGM comes to life, and the title card begins to roll. We then have a glimpse of all the characters after their above conversations at 8 P.M. Every character has taken the decision that is needed. Where that decision is going to lead them is not something the director wants us to know. 

The message is very clear. Thinking a little deeper and conversing with the person concerned can help us find a solution to our problems in more than one way. Even if it doesn’t, it’ll help understand the problem and make us come to a decision. 

Summary

The characters of Kathaah@8 have dealt with problems that are larger than our day to day issues. Divorce in middle age and still living under the same roof, adoption for the sake of the individuals and not for the sake of society, accepting the future with a deadly Cancer, hearing of divorce when she wants to convey about her pregnancy are just a few important examples the director draws out.   

The hope that the movie holds on to, or rather the characters in the film hold on to, is a strong one. It is that hope that acts as a driving factor of life. 

It is that hope that will keep driving us the rest of our lives. It is that same hope that will help us decide our future, and that will help us survive this test of experience. 

‘Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all’

Emily Dickinson

Kathaah@8 poster

Kathaah@8 is now available on YouTube

Watch the full movie here

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