Thithi. 2015. India/USA. Directed by Raam Reddy. In Kannada; English subtitles. 120 min.
Raam Reddy’s bold, vibrant first feature is closer to Émile Zola than it is to Bollywood. Filmed in India’s southern Karnataka state with mostly nonprofessional actors, the sprawling narrative follows three generations of sons following the death of the family’s patriarch, their 101-year-old grandfather known as “Century Gowda.” The men’s respective vices—ranging from greed to womanizing to cut-and-dry escapism—bring deliciously comedic misadventures to their village in the days leading up to the thithi, a funeral celebration traditionally held 11 days after a death. This incisive portrait of a community in a time of radical change (while some are looking after their sheep, others are lost in their cell phones) yields exemplary humanist comedy. Winner of two awards at the Locarno Film Festival, the film equally affirms the advent of a new realism within Indian cinema, as well as an engaging new voice in contemporary world cinema.