Renuka Shahane’s ‘Tribhanga – Tedhi Medhi Crazy’: Lessons from the lives of three generations of independent women


By Anjali V Raj

Tribhanga – Tedhi Medhi Crazy, a social drama movie directed by Renuka Shahane and produced by Ajay Devgn FFilms, Banijay Group Asia and Alchemy Films, is streaming on Netflix. It is a sensible movie which might disappoint many who expect something sensational and inspiring. The story portrays the struggles, regrets and resentments of three generations of women in a small family who venture into different choices of life. However, this tragic story of theirs is not melodramatic since it is presented with an emotional balance, including the right amount of grief and comedy that keeps the viewer glued to the movie until the end. The vivid heterogeneity of characters and funny dictions used by characters bring a charm to the movie. The movie begins with a scene where Milan (Kunaal Roy Kapur) video records the renowned feminist writer Nayantara (Tanvi Azmi) for her autobiography. This unfolds into a chaotic yet funny situation where the unexpected news of Nayan’s falling into a coma is brought to her estranged daughter Anuradha (Kajol) when she is about to perform an Odissi dance. Rest of the movie is essentially conversations in the hospital and few flashbacks projecting the rationale for tension between mothers and daughters.

Both Nayan and Anu live an unconventional life: Nayan leaves her husband to fulfill her aspiration of becoming a writer and Anu engages in a live-in relationship with her Russian lover whom she later kicks out for assaulting her. Anu blames her mother for the childhood trauma she and her brother Robindro (Vaibhav Tatwawaadi) had to face. Anu sets out on a different path as a dancer/actor and chooses to bring up her daughter Masha (Mithila Palkar) with immense love and care, which Anu believes she was denied by Nayan in her childhood. But Anu doesn’t realize her faults as a mother until Masha cries out the humiliation that she had to face in her childhood for being an illegitimate child. And for this reason, Masha chooses to have an ordinary life by marrying into a conventional family. Nayan, Anu and Masha are independent and liberal women. They are considerate towards each other’s freedom of choices. The movie provides a glimpse into the fragilities of mother-daughter relationship, difficulties of a single woman in the society, and the violence and abuse a woman encounters in her life. However, the movie doesn’t explore these aspects completely.

The movie reflects a form of liberalism that contradicts the hypocrisies of many fake liberals. These liberals consider conventional notions and practices as condescending and regard the people who practice them with disrespect and contempt. Imposing one’s beliefs on others, how much ever good the notion might be, is the opposite of liberalism. Nayan respects her daughter’s choice of lover and live-in relationship; she uses her influence to allocate a living space for the couple when the society cannot even comprehend the idea; and she is solicitous towards the idea of Anu raising Masha single-handedly. Nayan decides to stay away from Masha’s conservative family and she never shows reproach or even the slightest reprehension towards Masha’s decision. While admitting that she cannot spend her whole life with a single man and addressing marriage as a ‘social terrorism’, Anu doesn’t impose her notion on her daughter. She is happy with whatever makes Masha happy. When Masha decides for a conventional married life, Anu encourages it and even tries to speak politely with the family every time, despite her fondness for irrational language. Similarly, Masha doesn’t despise her grandmother’s or mother’s lifestyle even if it has brought her profound grief in the past. Each of them has different religious and cultural beliefs and perspectives of freedom. But they are considerate and careful not to impose their beliefs on each other.

Towards the end, the mothers and daughters realize their mistakes in life and the misunderstandings that lead to their present circumstances. The movie doesn’t offer much to those viewers who expect a jubilant climax; rather, it offers a harmonious one. While admitting that she and Nayan made many bad choices in their life, Anu also highlights that these choices were solely theirs and nobody had imposed their choices on them. We often forget that others have a right to choose and hence our judgment of others is clouded by our notions of right and wrong. Looking down on the people or society that follows a lifestyle different from ours as primitive and criticizing them is a common practice of unjust liberalism. At present, digital media are being used as a common platform for such critique and activism. As George Orwell demonstrates in his dystopian novels Animal Farm and 1984, oppressors of one era are replaced by another equally fit in the aftermath of any revolution. The idea of ‘good and bad’ differs with perspectives and when one realizes this, I believe, a person can see things in a different light.

Anjali V Raj
is a natural science researcher from Kerala, India. She currently works as a research assistant at ATREE, an Environmental thinktank in Bangalore. She writes poems and short essays based on her thoughts cultivated from observations of nature, lifestyle, and society. She started literary writing at the age of 16 and has recently published few of her works in Down to Earth, Café Dissensus Everyday, Borderless Journal and Times of India Reader’s Blog. Most of her poems are published in her personal blog, Outburst of Thoughts.


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