Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Netflix: Review of THE DISCIPLE: Cultivating Classical Culture

May 5, 2021

Sharad Nerulkar (Aditya Modak) is a singer, teacher and advocate of Indian classical music, Influenced by his father, Sharad was devoted to his mentor or Guruji (Arun Dravid). He listened to his father's old tapes of a lecture by legendary artist Maestra Sindhubai Jadhav or "Maai"(Sumitra Bhave). With time, he realized that the modern world, with Western music, TV singing competitions and social media, was putting his art at risk of extinction. 

My unfamiliarity with Indian Raag classical music form, and the slow storytelling going back and forth in time, showing Sherad at different ages, did not make this film too easy to get into at first. The. But as soon as I got the drift of the story being told, I was drawn in deep enough to share Sherad's unusual passion for his music, despite being criticized for his own singing style and talent. I felt Sherad's frustrations with the clueless librarian and his indignance with the brutally frank music critic Rajan Joshi (Prasad Vanarse).

The drone-like mournful chanting by Sharad and his friends, with all its unique vocal inflections and runs, as well as the haunting tones of the sitar, tabla and harmonium that provided the haunting musical accompaniment, were totally mesmerizing. Maai's deeply philosophical lectures about the singer's technique vs. the truth he should be delivering were captivating as the dramatic sonic backdrop when Sharad rode his motorcycle around the city.

This immersive film was also reflecting the truth about the endangered state of traditional ethnic art forms currently being threatened out of existence by the globalization of culture by mass and social media. These art forms depend on the passion of special dedicated people like Sharad who make it their personal mission to make sure that its pure unadulterated essence gets passed on to the next generation.  8/10. 

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