When it was announced that the cast of the award-winning film “Thithi” was being brought together for another film, “Tharle Village”, we all expected a warm homecoming to a village and its quirky but earthy people who stole our hearts. Unfortunately, watching “Tharle Village”, I felt as if I’d been dropped into a parallel world, where everything was the same but different, until the whole scene had been turned upside down.
It’s not as if “Tharle Village” is one of the worst movies to come out this year. It has a pleasant rhythm of its own, and a fair few flashes of humour that entertained the audience I watched it with. Scripted and directed by KM Raghu, the film lets us catch occasional glimpses of the quirky villagers who had endeared themselves to us in “Thithi”. While Thammegowda retains his worldly-wise but unlucky character, and Abhishek HN has turned into a more knowing young lover in “Tharle Village”, the biggest change is that the duo of Singri Gowda (Thithi’s Century Gowda) and Channegowda (better known as Gaddappa), come into centerstage here.
While “Tharle Village” might have otherwise registered as a benign but flawed take on a quirky village, it fails precisely because it brings “Thithi” so much to mind. In its scripting, "Thithi" firmly anchored itself around Century Gowda’s death and the resultant fight over a piece of land within a single family. The earlier film then let its gaze spread gently across the entire village landscape; it never lost that central anchorage.
“Tharle Village”, on the other hand, looks too broadly at the village and ends up synoptically presenting too many different story arcs that it cannot finally manage to hold together. Indeed, when the film ends, none of its main storylines actually find resolution, leaving you wondering why you sat through hours following them.
More seriously, “Thithi” gave us richly textured characters who nearly crossed the line into reality and hence could not be easily boxed into any stereotypes. The inhabitants of "Tharle Village", on the other hand, are far flatter, and in parts of the film betray their lack of depth. Especially, in bringing Singrigowda and Channegowda into the limelight, the film falls too easily into the tropes of the cranky old man and the fatalistic old man in defining them. After a point, Singrigowda’s character Nanjappa, in particular, starts to grate, as he rants his way through every moment on screen.
Most importantly, what Raam Reddy got right with his film was the old principle that it’s better to show than to tell. Gently teasing out subtle conflicts between his various protagonists, he rarely beat us over the head with obvious dialogues and plot points. “Tharle Village”, on the other hand, takes the obvious route far too often. I particularly found the soundtrack of a woman’s gasp to suggest sex, annoying and crass. And the preachy bits from the various characters, which were meant to sound folksy and rustic, simply end up sounding predictably out-of-date.
If you haven’t seen “Thithi”, you might enjoy “Tharle Village” in parts. But what the latter film ends up doing best is showing once again what a uniquely well-made film “Thithi” was.