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Times of India
A renowned scholar of ancient scriptures suffering from Alzheimer's goes missing from his daughter's car and everyone is busy looking for him.
Directors Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar are well known names in the meaningful and realistic genre of cinema and have films like 'Dahavi Pha' and 'Devrai' to their credit. With 'Astu', they strike gold again.
The film revolves around the life of Professor Chakrapani Shastri (Mohan Agashe), a former director of an Oriental Research Institute in Pune who is leading a solitary life after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's. On way to his daughter Ira's (Iravati Harshe) house, Shastri goes missing as he follows an elephant and reaches the mahout's house in the process. Ira comes back and finds her father missing from the car. Moreover, because Shastri cannot recall anything, the mahout too cannot help him even if he wants to. Shastri seeks refuge in the Sanskrit verses that he keeps chanting and his bond with Lakshmi-the elephant and the mahout's wife Chanamma (Amruta Subhash), who he addresses to as his mother.
Astu might have a disorder like Alzheimer's at its centre but the film is much more than just that. It is a scholar's struggle to recall his memories, a daughter's struggle to find her missing father and her recollection of happier times, the scholar's relation with the elephant and his affection towards Chanamma. The depiction of Shastri's state of mind is as realistic as it can get and there is no exaggeration there.
The casting is an integral part of this film as each character suits there roles to the T. Iravati Harshe as the troubled daughter, Amruta Subhash as the caring mother of two and Milind Soman as the concerned husband make this one a treat to watch.
But it is Mohan Agashe's portrayal of the lead character that takes the cake. There could not have been anyone more perfectly fitted for the role than him. He brings authenticity to the role with his flawless expressions that make you sympathise with the character and also understand his inner conflicts.
The film goes back and forth between the time of Shastri's stable condition and dementia. These jumps have been done shown so effortlessly on screen that you feel yourself to be a part of the process. Splendid narration and direction coupled with excellent performances are high point of this film and explain the National Award and acclaim it has got at film festivals across the country. 'Astu' is a must watch for everyone interested in meaningful cinema.
Astu is a touching story of a sanskrit scholar, who is losing his memory. He is lost on the busy streets of Pune, and like a child, follows an elephant who is being led by his mouhot collecting alms on the road. This mouhot and his wife, though living on the streets, are kind and look after this old man, now reduced to being a child, while his guilt ridden family frantically looks for him.<br/>Flashback takes us into the glorious past of this scholar, his failing memory and his anguish and distress at his loss. <br/>However , this is not a story of a tragedy, but triumph of relationships when an old man after his family and even strangers. <br/>Goodness still exists in human bossom.<br/>The movie is titled Astu.The word ' Astu' means, 'let it be'. This expression is an acceptance of life in a philosophical way. One way of coping with the hardships of life, is not to lament it, feel angry or sad, wishing for things to be different, but accepting facts of life as they are and moving on without the burden and ghosts of the past and loads of expectations from the future. This acceptance of life as it is, is not passive or out of helplessness, but it is an active choice of going with flow of life. There are times when this philosophy helps us to pass through difficult and stressful periods of life.
This is a tremendously moving movie for its humanistic value and an incredible performance of the leading actor.
Shree Kumar Singh
Astu is a good movie and must watch for everyone interested in meaningful cinema.