December 02, 2012 cinegoer.net
We need films like Mithunam to think, reflect and get ready with a practical strategy for our twilight years. The strategy is plain and simple, to be fit by doing most of the things on our own if not all and maintain a sense of detachedness towards children living away from us. Last but not the least is loving, respecting and savouring every moment of togetherness till you have to leave the world without any regrets. Director Tanikella Bharani in his debut feature film addresses the situation faced by aging parents in a refreshing way. The couple have no time to miss their children and even if they do, they deal with their feelings in a very sensible and a matured manner.
Mithunam is a poignant story of a couple, senior citizens who live for each other in a secluded place filled with the bounties of nature, self sufficient and they are full of happiness and contentment. The man played by SPB grows vegetables, fruits, doubles up as a cobbler, tends to his cattle and does everything necessary to run a home, in the process he orders his wife to cook his favourite dishes. He is obsessed with food and enjoys the smell and the feel of the past; from pounding coffee beans to making filter coffee to dumping a variety of home grown vegetables into the 'dappalam' and serving it from an emptied and hollow pumpkin, Lakshmi does with a trace of fatigue but exudes lot of love through her expressions.
This is perhaps the only Telugu film that makes you fall in love with vegetables and will make you crave for a farm house. The vegetables are organic, the relationships and feelings pure. Whether SPB looks at a bottle guard affectionately and tends to the cattle like his child, his work is brilliant. The batter with which Lakshmi makes a Pesarattu sprinkled with onions and green chillies is textured with dollop of emotional ghee but her child-like anger melts it all over it in no time. She sulks, plays, teases, admonishes, argues, fights and cries for being confined to the kitchen and spending rest of her life cooking for him.
The director takes a lot of care to make sure that the story doesn't turn overtly sentimental even when the children from the US don't turn up as promised, but the last few minutes and exactly one sentence from Lakshmi in the drama tugs at your heart-strings. It makes every married woman feel the same as her. Another scene has the husband telling his wife to go slow on her excitement when her son invites her to the US, he tells her that they want her there to babysit while they go to work.
Mithunam focuses on companionship during the last phase in life, that husband and wife relationship gets stronger as years go by and that happiness lies in not expecting anything from children. In every home there are parents feeling insecure as they grow old, they are faced with a dilemma about asking their children to return for them but at the same time they do not want to jeopardise their career. Mithunam is a difficult yet an utopian situation but the two hour drama drives sense both into parents and also children.