Gujarati Film Review: Reva

Keep Flowing

Review of Gujarat Movie Reva by Cinephile

Rating: ***1/2 (Three and a half stars)

To adapt a book into a full-fledged movie is a risky business. The maker has to deal with two major questions. One, will he be able to do justice to the original story and the writer? Two, whether the movie stand independently from the book? The makers in India don’t prefer this double-edged sword. Thus unlike Hollywood, Indian filmmakers rarely touch books to make a movie. But in a pleasant surprise the director duo Rahul Bhole & Vinit Kanojia has taken the risk and made a movie ‘Reva’ from Dhruv Bhatt’s novel ‘Tattvamasi.’ The novel published more than a decade ago is already hit and had won a prestigious award as well. Approx 140 minutes long movie Reva has many moments to cherish and some things which could have been taken care of.

Reva tells a story of the transformation of a young man from USA (Chetan Dhanani) from a rude non-believer to ardent Narmada devotee. In other words, imagine Shah Rukh Khan of ‘Swades’ walking around the Narmada. Here too, there’s a sari-clad young, educated & beautiful girl (Monal Gajjar) and voila, Daya Shankar Pandey, too! But unlike Swades, here our protagonist makes peace within himself rather than solving problems of ‘Gaaonwallas’.
What to watch in Reva?

Adaptation:

One of the good things about Reva is it hardly makes us feel that it’s an adaptation of a book. Though the movie is very verbose and characters speak way more than they should. Those who have read the book would agree that the major portions of the book have been taken care of.

Cinematography & locations:

Reva will trigger your wanderlust and will immediately make you rush to the gorgeous locations around Narmada river. That snake like Narmada, that peacefully flowing river among rocky mountain bed, that thick lush green carpet of a jungle, those ancient ruins in and around the Narmada and that gorgeous fort Ahilya on the bank of Narmada, keep floating in front of your eyes much after the movie ends. Drone shots are overutilized but considering the beauty of Narmada, you don’t mind watching them again and again.

Writing:

‘Tattvamasi’ was a good piece of good writing. Many catchy dialogues have been taken as it is in the movie. So, it feels good to hear lines with deep philosophical meaning.

Acting:

Reva is backed by its solid cast. The main pillar is, of course, the lead actor Chetan Dhanani. His desi English is far far from an NRG boy, but he’s super confident in front of a camera. He almost carries the whole movie on his shoulders. Lead actress Monal Gajjar hardly had much to do except looking pretty in the starched saris and perfect makeup-hair. But she looks as serene as the river of Narmada! Another cast comprises of Yatin Karyekar (my God, is he that fluent in Gujarati?!), Abhinay Banker (why doesn’t he do more movies?), Dayashankar Pandey (aka Cha.Lu. Pandey of ‘Taarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chashma’), cute Rupa Borgaokar (why she fake lipsyncs in the song ‘Bhammariyalo’?), Atul Mahale (the inseparable twin brother of Abhinay Banker in the movie as ‘Bittu-Banga’) and ‘Shri Hari’ chanting Prashant Barot. Sejal Shah-Jha has a small but impressive cameo. Feroz Bhagat is reduced to a small one note cameo.

Music:

Amar Khandha has composed some powerful & soulful tracks which makes you humming once you hear them. Especially ‘Ma Reva’ by Kirtidan Gadhvi & Divya Kumar respectively. ‘Kaalo Bhammariyalo’ is another soulful song sung beautifully by Arohi Mhatre. Interestingly, most of the songs are composed by the lead actor Chetan Dhanani himself. Once you finish the movie, you’ll be tempted to download the songs to your mobile.
However, this movie isn’t flawless like the Narmada. In fact, it leaves you dried up just like the present flow of the river Sabarmati! ‘Reva’ runs for long 140 minutes and takes its own sweet time to establish the story. As I said earlier, the movie is too verbose. The characters speak way more than the camera. The word ‘Narmada’ is spoken a zillion times! The ‘Swades’ reminding story is predictable to the core. All characters looked way more sentimental and romanticising the Narmada all the time. There are many bad jump cuts and synergy-less camera angles, especially in close-ups. As a viewer, I didn’t get some answers till the movie ended, like, why a Narmada devotee grandpa couldn’t fuse that love in his grandchild? Hadn’t he taken him to visit the Narmada ever? Why? Why doesn’t he explain the million dollar property situation to ashram people, instead of keeping them in the dark? Why do our filmmakers try to justify witch-hunting in the name of ‘Reeti-Rivaaj’? And worst, what was the need of inserting a cameo of a young Gujarati star as himself? And they praise the same novel ‘Tattvamasi’ in the scene! Were the makers felt uncertain about their film and succumb to crowd-pleasing tactic?

But again, these are minor hurdles in the route of the whole movie. Reva is one of the most mature Gujarati movies we have seen in recent times. It’s a clean family watch with some nice thoughts to take back to home. Don’t miss it.

– DeshGujarat

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