Available On: Netflix
Language: Marathi (English & Hindi Subtitles)
Duration: 128 Minutes
Story: The Disciple is a Marathi language film that follows an earnest classical music practitioner, his arduous rites-of-passage journey filled with self-doubt and his worries if he will ever achieve his aspiration of excellence.
Review: Directed by Chaitanya Tamhane, The Disciple upon a first viewing never gives you the satisfaction of the bass drop in a song. Sharad Nerulkar, played by Aditya Modak, throughout the film is struggling to express his emotions through his music, something that should come to him naturally. Similarly, the film builds up for the mic to drop and the audience to finally enjoy his triumph, but it never happens.
However, on a deeper level, the film speaks about the unsung heroes who work hard every day but when it's time to get their dues, they are handed the short end of the stick by fate. The Disciple, unfortunately, does not take a moment to explore the likeness of Sharad's story to many others in real life. Not everyone gets to be the best of the best, some have to become just good enough to push through, to build a support system, to be the audience.
The Disciple starts with a lonely, young Sharad Nerulkar who has devoted his life to classical music. As a child, he was heavily influenced by his father's love for classical music and his thirst for greatness. At 24, every time Sharad fails to shine through, he feels a prick of self-doubt that lasts through the years. With a strict teacher, Sharad never falters from his aim to become a famous classical musician, despite his family criticising him for not having a proper job or getting married.
Slowly, as years go by, Sharad, set in the ways of his gurus, begins to notice how despite moving forward in life he has been left behind. During all the years of his learning, he was told to follow through with his practice and the music will come to him one day, the emotions will flow out. But they never do.
At the age of 36, amid a public performance, Sharad is hard-hit with the ever-standing truth - there is no more time left for him to struggle, to keep waiting for the music to shine through him.
While the story shed's light on the hard life of a classical musician and the young generation that knows nothing of India's rich traditional art, it fails to give the audience a chance to connect with the characters. The film's screenplay breaks from scene to scene, era to era without driving the audience forward with it.
The sloppy camera work, long pauses and awkward dialogues may have worked for the indie filmmakers until a few years ago, as a medium to bring the audience to the character's pace. But the film does more than slow down the audience - it breeds hope that there is more to offer. However, much like Sharad's career, The Disciple ends abruptly, wishing you too moved on to something else.