In Tribhanga — Terrhi, Merrhi, Crazy, Kajol drops a series of f-bombs, amongst other cuss words. The barrage hits everyone — doctors, assistants, the press, and particularly her comatose mother’s assistant (Kunaal Roy Kapur), who is penning her autobiography.

In one instant, she explains that the main f-bomb isn’t really an expletive: rather it is a noun. “Imagine standing in front of the Taj Mahal — now say ‘love’… doesn’t work, does it? Now say (the aforementioned expletive). See, it fits,” she explains.

The guy doesn’t get it — and he’s not supposed to; he’s too strait-laced to indulge in profanities. Kajol’s character, Anuradha ‘Anu’ Apte, an actress and dancer, loathes her mother Nayantra ‘Nayan’ Apte (Tanvi Azmi) — a celebrated novelist — but loves her daughter Masha (Mithila Palkar), and considers the cussing a natural extension. It gives her a sense of normalcy, as she snaps at people who are left aghast of her brief tantrums.

Like her transitory moods, Tribhanga comes with a brief one-line plot. At odds with her birth mother and her real father, Anu becomes an independent young woman who finds solace with Odissi, a form of classical dance.

Tribhanga — Terrhi, Merrhi, Crazy is 90 minutes of humdrum conversations and flashbacks

We don’t see Anu dance — probably because Kajol is not practiced enough; the most we see are a series of still frames where the actress fakes a few poses.

Actress-turned-director Renuka Shahane — you may remember her from the Zee show Antakshari and the film Hum Aapke Hain Kaun — makes a film that fakes through a lot. The emotion and the sense of conviction these characters go though is hardly palpable.

Kajol’s character, in particular, doesn’t feel genuine — or genuinely worried — at the circumstances. Her few expressions of concern are often replaced by a flippant attitude that doesn’t gel with the gravity of the situations at hand. I mean, how much more serious can things get when your mum is probably breathing her last, right?

There are attempts at showcasing these three women with independent personalities. They are fed up with marriage, choosing to stay in live-in relationships, partially because a few men they came across were less than ideal, but mostly because they love to be free of marital shackles.

Kanwaljeet, playing a renowned painter who is Nayantra’s ex, comes across as the only genuine father figure. Like the transitory ambience of the film, he is there in a flashback, and a scene in the hospital, and then poof, he’s out of the story.

Set in a handful of locations, the screenplay, the production design and the cinematography (by Baba Azmi, husband of Tanvi Azmi, brother of Shabana Azmi, shooter of Woh 7 Din, Mr. India, Beta, Ishq) has a telefilm-esque feel.

We don’t really feel any sympathies for Anu or Nayantra, but then again, they wouldn’t want any. As characters, they are happy being what they are. As audiences sitting through 90 minutes of humdrum conversations and flashbacks, some of us may be happy reaching for the fast-forward button.

Streaming on Netflix, Tribhanga — Terrhi, Merrhi, Crazy, is rated 18+ for scenes depicting harsh language, violence and suicide

Published in Dawn, ICON, January 24th, 2021

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