Seema Pahwa on her directorial debut and bringing together a 27-member cast
After a standing ovation at MAMI, Seema Pahwa’s Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi heads for release
Veteran actor Seema Pahwa makes her directorial debut with Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi. The slice-of-life drama centres on a family as it reunites for a funeral at their ancestral home. The film premiered at the 21st MAMI Mumbai Film Festival and is set for theatrical release on November 22. The ensemble cast is led by Naseeruddin Shah, Supriya Pathak, Konkona Sen Sharma, Vikrant Massey, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Vinay Pathak, and Manoj Pahwa.
Seema, who has worked in theatre, television, and cinema for the last 51 years, was inspired to write her own script while working on Ankhon Dekhi (2014). “I felt we had lost the tradition of making films on family relations,” Seema says. “The plot of Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi came to me when I was shooting for Dum Laga Ke Haisha. I realised I had a lot to say about Indian households and their complexities. I wrote the screenplay and dialogues in 15 days.”
Seema initially wanted someone else to direct the film. However, on the urging of her friends and colleagues, she decided to take the helm. “I had never even directed a short film so it was a big challenge. Moreover, all the producers I approached wanted to cast stars instead of actors. Luckily though, in the last couple of years, actors grew in prominence in our industry. I benefited from that change since I had some of the biggest actors on board.”
Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi is set in Lucknow. When family patriarch Ramprasad (Naseeruddin Shah) passes away, his four sons and their wives assemble for the 13-day rituals. Supriya Pathak plays the grieving mother, a harried spectator to the ensuing chaos. “The film explores the problems of the Indian middle class, especially the struggle between individualism and relationships. Both are equally important, so the effort to balance the two creates a lot of dysfunction.”
On bringing together the massive cast, Seema says, “There are a total of 27 characters in the film. I picked my actors like you pick guests for a dinner party, making sure nobody has any past grudges with each other. It was also difficult to match everyone’s dates. By some magic, it all worked out and we finished the film in 32 days.”
Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi was met with a standing ovation at the MAMI screening. The film is being co-presented by Jio Studios and Drishyam Films. Seema says she is delighted with the response so far and wants to direct more films in the future. “I’ve been an artist for the last fifty years, so there are many stories I wish to tell. I had great fun making my first film. If audiences warm up to it, I will definitely make more movies.”